PORTSMOUTH — Persistency is a trait that can help one in the classroom, in a work environment, or in a quest for doing something on a consistent basis.
In the first of two meetings between Portsmouth and Notre Dame on the softball diamond this season, ND coach J.D. McKenzie said he felt his team’s persistence at the plate was a major factor in them capturing a road win over the Lady Trojans on Thursday.
The Lady Titans were winners 9-4 in a matchup of programs seperated by just 1.2 miles — a win that improves ND’s unbeaten start to 9-0 to begin the 2021 season.
“We were really persistent all game. We kept fighting, getting runs and timely hits, kind of kept the pressure on when we had base runners on,” McKenzie said, after the game. “Even innings when we didn’t score, we had runners on — I don’t think we had a 1-2-3 inning all game.”
McKenzie is right, neither team had a 1-2-3 inning at the plate over the course of the seven inning contest.
Despite Portsmouth (9-4) scoring a run in both the first and second inning, ND kept battling and opened their scoring column beginning with a run in the third on a Lady Trojan error.
The Lady Titans scored each of their three runs in the fourth inning with two outs, including two on a two RBI single by senior Isabel Cassidy.
Cassidy finished 4-of-5 at the plate and was one of three Lady Titans who had two RBI in the road win.
Gwen Sparks’ RBI single in the top of the fifth made it 5-2 ND as Sparks aided her performance on the mound with her own bat, scoring sophomore Annie Dettwiller.
Portsmouth sophomore Katie Born’s sac fly RBI scored junior Madison Perry from third and brought the Lady Trojans to within a run at 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth.
This time up, ND’s persistent approach came the way of freshmen Kaylor Pickelsimer and Kyndall Ford.
In the top of the sixth, Pickelsimer had a two RBI single that gave the Lady Titans a 7-4 lead with no outs. A couple of outs later, Ford managed a two RBI double that put ND ahead 9-4 for the game’s final runs.
Pickelsimer’s two RBI improved her mark on the season to a team-best 18 through their first nine contests.
“We feel like we’ve got 10 really good hitters,” McKenzie said. “Kaylor’s leading the team in RBIs and is connecting with the ball well. Gwen and Kyndall both had big hits and have been pitching lights out for us, and Katie made a nice play out in right. They’ve got the talent, skill, now they’re getting the competitive game experience.”
Portsmouth coach Kristen Bradshaw gave credit to Notre Dame for answering the bell offensively after her Lady Trojans brought it to within a run.
“We brought the top of their lineup up when it was 5-4, they’ve seen our pitcher three times and sort of timed her up. I thought we made the defensive plays we needed to, they just had more hits than us,” Bradshaw said. “That’s a great team to be in a close ball game with.”
The four runs Portsmouth scored were the most ND has allowed this season up to this point, but both teams’ lineups feature a bevy of big bats.
The two will face each other again in both teams regular season finale on May 7, and by that time will have found out where each stand in their respective conference races and district seeding heading into the postseason.
As of April 15, both Notre Dame and Portsmouth are in the driver’s seat for the Southern Ohio Confernece Division I and Ohio Valley Conference races, respectively. Clay also boasts an unbeaten SOC I mark as they’ll travel to ND on Monday in league play.
Portsmouth’s road win over Ironton on Monday has them as the lone unbeaten club in OVC play through their first four games.
After the two met in a summer game last year following the cancellation of the 2020 spring season, both coaches felt they have a lot to gain from a strong non-league matchup such as this.
And with the short distance seperating the two programs, it’s hard to disagree.
“I thought it was two really good teams going at it. They have a bunch of talent over there, made some great plays and have a strong lineup with girls who can hit 1-through-9,” McKenzie said. “Great experience for us — being so close and both teams having a strong year, it’s only going to help.”
“We have a pretty tough schedule this year. Wheelersburg, Notre Dame twice — I think a lot of teams don’t want to play these kind of games. Much rather play a game like that instead of a game where we’re blowing someone out or getting blown out,” Bradshaw said. “Excited for the second half of the season — every week, every game we’ve gotten better. Seeing teams like this, Ironton on Monday, I really think they’re starting to believe they belong at that tier.”
Notre Dame: 0 0 1 3 1 4 0 — 9 18 2
Portsmouth: 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 — 4 8 4
W: Sparks (ND), L: Phillips (P)
Sparks (ND): 7 IP, 8H, 0ER, 3BB, 6Ks
Phillips (P): 7IP, 15H, 5ER, 3BB, 0Ks
Hitting — Notre Dame
Claire Dettwiller 2-3, 2BB, 2R
Ava Hassel 3-5, R, RBI
Isabel Cassidy 4-5, 2RBI, R
Kaylor Pickelsimer 3-5, 2RBI, R
Annie Dettwiller 2-3, 2R, BB
Maddy Suter 1-4
Kyndall Ford 2-4, 2RBI
Gwen Sparks 1-4, R, RBI
Madison Brown 0-4, R
Hitting — Portsmouth
Emily Cheatham 1-3, R, BB
Olivia Ramey 1-4, R
Madison Perry 2-3, R
Olivia Dickerson 1-4, RBI
Katie Born 0-2, BB, R, RBI
Faith Phillips 2-4
Madison Ankrom 1-3
Ayonna Carr 0-3, RBI
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved