The Portland High School softball team rebounding from a pair of district losses by reaching the semifinals of the Upper Cumberland Classic, which was played at the Cane Creek Sportsplex last weekend.
“The girls are working hard every day, and they are starting to see it pay off,” Lady Panther head coach Scott Steinbrecher said. “Eryn Cheney has been the leader of our pitching staff and gets better every game. Kayla Wasilko and Summer Evans competed on the mound this weekend. Lillie Whitehead has brought her leadership over from the basketball court to the diamond, and that has been huge for such a young team that was struggling.”
Portland dropped a pair of district contests to open the week, suffering a 4-2 loss to Beech 4-2 and a 14-4 setback to Gallatin.
The Lady Panthers’ opening game of the Upper Cumberland Classic was as 5-3 win over Livingston Academy on Friday night.
In the first inning, Whitehead walked, stole second base and scored on a base hit off the bat of Brooklyn Bellavio.
Portland struck for another run in the third as Whitehead singled and was sacrificed to second by Jama Hoffman. Wasilko singled to score Whitehead to tie the game at 2-2.
The Lady Panthers took the lead with a pair of runs in the following inning.
Katie McCloud singled and stole second before Whitehead drew a base on balls. Then, Hoffman delivered a two-run hit that drove in McCloud and Whitehead.
In the fifth, Bellavio doubled and later scored on a defensive indifference to cap her squad’s scoring.
The Lady Cats punched in a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Cheney recorded the final out on a flyout for the win.
Bellavio finished with two hits, while Cheney gave up just three hits and fanned four Livingston Academy batters.
Portland’s next win came over Middlesboro Bell County (Kentucky) by a 9-5 margin.
Whitehead, Shelby Richards and Cheney each had a pair of hits in the contest.
The Lady Panthers plated a trio of runs in the first inning.
Whitehead walked and scored on a Richards’ RBI-single. Bellavio walked, and Wasilko singled to load the bases. Cheney walked to force in Richards, and Bellavio crossed the plate thanks to a passed ball.
Eleven batters came to the plate for Portland in the six-run fourth inning.
Jenna Bailey and Cheney scored when Whitehead singled, and Hoffman doubled in Whitehead and McCloud. Richards drove in Hoffman with a hit, and Cheney’s two-base hit drove in Richards.
Middlesboro Bell County scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth and added three in the fifth.
Wasilko started the game on the mound and allowed three hits and two runs, while Evans was the winning pitcher in the contest.
The Lady Panthers survived a fifth-inning threat by Central Magnet from Murfreesboro to defeat the Lady Tigers, 4-3, on Saturday morning.
Wasliko earned the win on the mound and allowed just two runs over four innings, while Cheney picked up the save by recording the final three outs, striking out the final two batters.
Portland pounded out 11 hits, with Whitehead managing three and Bailey finishing with two.
In the second, Central Magnet took a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Panthers tied the score in the home half of the frame.
Cheney was hit by a pitch before Bailey singled, and McCloud followed with a base hit to drive in Cheney.
Three consecutive singles by Richards, Wasilko and Cheney in the third inning allowed Richards to score.
Wasilko later crossed home plate thanks to a fielding error as Portland led 3-2.
The Lady Panthers added another run in the fourth as Bailey doubled, and Whitehead doubled to drive in Bailey.
Central Magnet scored once in the top of the fifth.
Portland handed Livingston Academy its second loss of the tournament on Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the third and padded their lead in the fourth with a single run.
Wasilko collected two hits in the game.
On the mound, Cheney allowed two hits and struck out five in the win.
In the third, McCloud singled, and Richards doubled with two outs to score McCloud. Bellavio doubled in Richards, and Wasilko blasted a two-base hit to plate Bellavio.
Portland scored in the fourth when Bailey doubled and was sacrificed to third by Kameron Whitaker. McCloud took first base after getting hit by a pitch, and Whitehead’s groundout allowed Bailey to score.
In their final game of the tournament, the Lady Panthers suffered a 4-0 loss to Macon County.
Hoffman singled in the first inning, which was the team’s only hit.
Portland plays at Beech on Thursday and will compete in the Queen City Classic in Clarksville this weekend.
Macon County won the tournament thanks to a 16-0, three-inning victory over King’s Academy in Saturday evening’s championship game.
On Monday, the Lady Panthers travel to Mt. Juliet to face Green Hill.