PORTSMOUTH — In last Wednesday’s softball meeting between Portsmouth and Ironton, the long ball was key in the Lady Tigers’ offense.
The same proved true when the two met on Thursday in Portsmouth — as a pair of first inning home runs by Keegan Moore and Bella Sorbilli pushed Ironton in front.
Moore’s two-run blast to center field succeeded a one-out single by Emily Weber — one of three hits by Weber on the day. Sorbilli’s home run left the park in similar fashion to Moore’s blast to dead center field, putting Ironton ahead 3-0 in their first trip to the plate.
Portsmouth responded with a one-run first — as sophomore Olivia Dickerson doubled-in sophomore Emily Cheatham from second base to cut the Lady Trojans deficit to 3-1.
The Lady Trojans did moderate, early damage against Moore, who commanded her team in the circle for the duration of the game — after playing first base in their first meeting eight days prior.
However, Moore and Portsmouth’s Faith Phillips allowed no runs across the final six innings. Thus, the Lady Tigers did what the Lady Trojans had done last week — earn a road victory against their Ohio Valley Conference rivals.
Portsmouth threatened to close the gap in the sixth inning — but a pair of catches on hard-hit balls by Ironton right fielder Sidney Douglas subsided the inning, and ultimately the Lady Trojans’ chances late.
“Facing Keegan this time around definitely limited our base runners. First meeting we had 13 hits, and only 4 this game against her,” Portsmouth coach Kristen Bradshaw said, afterwards. “She had 8 strikeouts, and with only scoring 1 run, its tough to win a ballgame that way. We put some hard balls in play sporadically, but Ironton outfield made some great plays to keep us off the bases.”
Not only do Portsmouth and Ironton split their season-series, but because of a valley of a week for the Lady Trojans, the Lady Tigers earned a share of the 2022 OVC championship — along with Portsmouth and Rock Hill.
Entering the week, Portsmouth was unbeaten (10-0) against OVC foes. A pair of road losses to Gallia Academy (8-2) and Fairland (16-15) and a home loss on Wednesday to Coal Grove (4-2) meant that Thursday was the last chance for Portsmouth to win the league race outright.
“I have said all along, any OVC team can win any game at any time. We can’t count anyone out, ever,” Bradshaw said. “This week, unfortunately, proves that. We were 10-0 vs OVC teams coming into the week. Some of those games were very close games, and others were run rules. We have had a few off games this season, and been able to still come out on top. This week, not so much. Before this week, our team batting avg. has been .368. This week, .259. We played 4 of the toughest teams in the league four days in a row, and unfortunately, four of our worst performances for the year came on all of those days. I always say, winning, hits, runs are contagious and this week we couldn’t seem to get anything going at the plate that was enough. We seem to wait till the end to get something going, and I think just knowing to go to the plate every single time like its the last inning is hopefully something we learned these last few games. Scoring early and often.”
Portsmouth earned the No. 4 seed in the Division III Southeast District seeding as voted by the coaches in the district. The Lady Trojans will host the winner of No. 21 South Point and No. 28 Minford on Thursday, May 12 in a Unioto #1 D-III sectional title.
Entering the season, Portsmouth returned each of their players from last season’s D-III district runner-up unit.
Bradshaw is hoping their returning experience will play a meaningful role this postseason.
“I think having a year of experience with all of the girls in the District Championship will help us out. Last year’s appearance was the first one in a while and I think we were a little nervous going in with no seniors or experience. This year I’m hoping our six seniors step up and lead our way into the post-season,” Bradshaw said. “Our mind-set right now is to start over, everyone is 0-0 at this point. We have a great team, great players, and a great coaching staff that I’m excited about getting back to a few practices with, and hopefully getting a lot more wins with this group the next few weeks.”
Ironton 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 3 9 0
Portsmouth 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 4 1
Emily Weber 3-4, R
Keegan Moore 1-3, R, 2RBI, BB, 2-run HR
Bella Sorbilli 2-3, R, RBI, BB, HR
B. Wallace 1-3
Sidney Douglas 1-3
K. Miller 1-3
Emily Cheatham 2-3, R
Olivia Dickerson 1-3, RBI
Katie Born 1-3
Keegan Moore (I) 7IP, 4H, 1ER, 0BB, 8K (W)
Faith Phillips (P) 7IP, 9H, 3ER, 2BB, 1K (L)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved