Portage Lake girls win tourney opener

LAKE LINDEN – A safe description of the offense for the Portage Lake Major (age 11-12) softball team through one game: streaky.

PL scored 11 runs in its first inning of the District 11 tournament against Keweenaw Friday at the Boneyard. Keweenaw erased the lead and held PL scoreless over the next 2 1/2 innings, so PL scored 10 times in the fourth to trigger the run rule and a 21-11 win.

“It was a great team effort. I think every one of the girls on the team had a hit and the mood stayed positive so I think it was our game to win the whole time,” PL manager Sean Connors said.

The win advances Portage Lake to face Ishpeming at noon today in the winner’s bracket of the five-team double-elimination tournament.

Keweenaw scored twice in the top of the first, but Portage Lake sent 16 batters to the plate in its first at-bat.

Pitcher Josie Connors had a pair of singles in support of her own cause during the big outburst.

“It was tough tonight. It’s hot out there on that field, it was tough for all the pitchers that were in this game to battle that heat and they all struggled a little bit at times,” Keweenaw manager Matt Vertin said.

To their credit, Keweenaw kept their heads up and started chipping away.

In the second, Greta Poyhonen delivered a one-out single and came around to score, starting a four-run inning.

Pitcher Mackenzie LePage came in and settled things down in the circle, holding Portage to two baserunners in the next two innings.

Keweenaw scored twice in the third to inch closer, then finally got above water in the fourth. Hannah Rautio started the rally off with her second single of the game and came around to score, and three straight hits with two outs by Megan Peterson, Andrea Kariniemi and Poyhonen delivered the two runs necessary to even it up.

After Connors got a bases-loaded strikeout to get out of the jam, Portage got to work building a new lead. Abby Brooks and Daityn Markham had hits to spark the explosion. After a handful of walks and defensive miscues, Portage Lake had the lead necessary to make it to round two.

“We had a couple of situations in that last inning where we just didn’t make the plays we should have made,” Vertin said. “A lot of that is physical errors. Physical errors are things that sometimes are going to happen. We just had too many of them.”

Keweenaw got two hits apiece from Rautio and Poyhonen. They’ll have time to tune up for their first elimination game, which is Monday at 7 p.m.

“I know the girls were really positive when we made that comeback and tied that game up. They know they can compete with this team and any team that’s in this tournament. The bottom line is we just have to make the plays,” Vertin said.

Josie Connors was the winning pitcher. She and Cassidy Becia had two hits apiece.

“We hit well. Everybody on the team hit well. Hit well and tremendous defense. Fundamentals won the game,” Sean Connors said.