PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – The Portsmouth Lady Trojans softball team held their home opener for the 2016 season Tuesday evening at the Portsmouth Sports Complex softball field, which saw the Trojans take on the Piketon Lady Redstreaks.
Portsmouth took advantage of a struggling Piketon pitcher Cameron Alexander, scoring in the first and second innings before the Redstreaks hurler could regain composure. As a result, the Trojans marched to a 3-0 victory over the Redstreaks in the home opener.
“We hit the ball well,” Portsmouth softball coach Kristen Bradshaw said. “We put it in play and made things happen.”
The Trojans found great success with getting runners on base, which has been an issue for the Trojans early in this 2016 season.
“That is something we haven’t done in the past few weeks,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve been telling them if we get a lot of base-runners and put the ball in play, great things will happen.”
Portsmouth pitcher Andi Queen got the momentum on the Trojans’ side in the top of the first inning. After getting two quick outs, and then giving up a hit, Queen picked up the final out of the inning with a three pitch strikeout that left Piketon batter Kalesie Henderson with her bat on her shoulders.
From there, the Trojans started the bottom of the first inning with a Baleigh Bradley walk, which put the first Trojan batter on base. Bailey Horsley added damage with a one-out double, which was followed soon after by a two-out double by Sharia Kearns, resulting in two runs being scored for Portsmouth.
After one inning, the Trojans led the Redstreaks 2-0.
“Scoring first, I think, really sets the momentum,” Bradshaw said. “When we score in the first inning, that puts the pressure on them.”
Bradshaw noted during last year’s softball season, Portsmouth seemed to have to fight to overcome a deficit, as their opponents were able to strike first a majority of the time.
“It’s kind of nice to be on the other end of it,” Bradshaw said. “The first few batters putting it in play is huge for us.”
Portsmouth added another run in the second inning, as Wesleigh Jackson would cross the plate to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead after two complete innings.
After jumping out to a quick lead, it was all about fielding and defense for the Trojans the remainder of the game.
Highlighting the Trojan defense was Queen, who pitched a complete game shutout. Queen gave up five hits, and walked one batter in the contest, while striking out eight Redstreak batters.
“Andi threw really well,” Bradshaw said. “She has a great defense behind her, and I told her to make them put the ball in play, and let your defense work for you. We had a few errors tonight, but we didn’t let them hurt us.”
Piketon threatened to score in the third inning, as the Redstreaks had runners on second and third, thanks to a pair of hits. With two outs in the inning, and two runners in scoring position, the pressure began to mount on Queen as she tried to hold on to the Trojan three-run lead.
Queen showed no sign of waning under pressure, as she came up big to strike out her counterpart, Alexander, to end the Piketon third inning, and preventing the Redstreaks from scoring.
As effective as Queen was on the mound, the defense behind her was on the same level.
The Redstreaks threatened again in the fifth inning. After a walk, and then a hit, Piketon looked to be on the verge of crossing the plate. Once again, the Trojans were able to stop the Redstreaks, as they collected three straight outs to end the inning.
Piketon would threaten one more time, in the sixth inning, but would once again be unable to bring a runner from third in to score.
Bradshaw also had praise for her catcher, Bailey Horsley.
“Bailey caught really well, and called pitches behind the plate,” Bradshaw said.
Ground outs and strike outs were key in prohibiting any runs from coming across the plate.
“Andi kept the ball down, and struck out a few in high pressure situations which was great,” Bradshaw said. “Her changeup was on tonight, and she was throwing that for strikes, which helped us out a lot. It was a lot about keeping it low and forcing them to hit ground balls, and our defense made the plays when we needed them to.”
The Trojans will suit up on Thursday to take on the East Lady Tartans in Sciotoville. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m.
Portsmouth – Kearns 2-3 (2B), Horsley 1-3 (R), Parker 1-3, Jackson 1-3 (R), McKinley 1-3, Bradley 0-0 (3BB, R)
Piketon – Pack 1-4, Alexander 1-3, Smith 1-3, Reno 1-3
W – Queen 7IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 8K, 1BB
L – Alexander 6IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 9K, 4BB
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.