Portage softball coach Bryan Jubina said after his team’s 3-2 win at Windber on Thursday that he anticipated his squad – the defending WestPAC titleholder – to play in a lot of close games this season.
How his Mustangs (4-2) reacted to adversity and opportunity in their North Division win over the Ramblers (1-2) might be an encouraging thing if they can make it a trend.
“It’s the little things,” Jubina said. “Aggressive baserunning, which we try to do all the time, and it just worked out. I gotta give (Windber) credit. Very good team. Very good defensively. We’re lucky to score three.”
See more photos from the game
Windber held a 2-1 lead after an inning, but could not crack Portage’s Hailey Heidler for a third run, despite having runners in scoring position in the third and sixth innings.
Portage plated its first run by taking advantage of a pair of Windber errors. The Mustangs’ Katie Nolan reached base when Danielle Campbell bobbled a throw by Taylor McKee. Nolan scored three batters later when McKee’s misplay of a Kaitlin Jubina’s grounder to second.
Windber went ahead in the bottom half of the first when Cassie Wentz reached on a fielder’s choice before coming around to score on Hanna Tomlinson’s single to left. Tomlinson, who took second on the attempted throw to cut down Wentz, scored a batter later on Meghan Moore’s single up the middle.
Courtney Jubina drew a walk to open the Portage second and scored on Nolan’s single to right-center.
Windber’s best shot at regaining the lead came in the third as Wentz singled before taking second on a passed ball. On Tomlinson’s single to left, Wentz broke for home but was thrown out at the plate when Kaitlin Jubina fired a one-hop throw from left field to catcher Courtney Jubina, who swept her glove on Wentz to complete the play and end the Ramblers’ third.
Click here to see more photo from today's game
“Defensively, we played great,” Bryan Jubina said. “That tying run, we got out at home. We played well.”
Taking the chance on sending Wentz was a byproduct of what had happened a play earlier, according to Windber coach Cory Pavlosky.
“The previous play, I saw the girl threw one away that sort of bobbled around in the infield that the pitcher had to get,” Pavlosky said. “So I was like: ‘Well, if you’re going to take a risk, you’re going to take a risk in a tie ballgame at home.’ I tried to send her, hoping that throw was off-kilter, but she made a heck of a play with a dead-target throw.
“Once in a while, that gamble pays off, but in this case it didn’t.”
After leaving a pair of runners in scoring position to end the fourth as Wentz made a sliding catch on a line drive to center from Heidler, Portage went ahead to stay in the fifth when Kaitlin Jubina singled and advanced to third when Casey Schreyer misplayed the hop in right field. Jordan Caurvina grounded out to shortstop a batter later to bring in the Mustangs outfielder.
The misplay in the outfield was the sixth Windber error, leading to the second unearned run scored by the Mustangs.
That being said, Pavlosky wasn’t the type to rant and rave about his inexperienced squad’s miscues.
“We had three freshmen out there (Thursday), because a some of our subs are on an educational trip,” Pavlosky said. “This is the first time on our field in terms of an organized nine out on the field, because we’ve had some construction done and with the weather the way it’s been. It was shaky at first, but as the game progressed, they settled in and played fine. We just didn’t get enough runs.”
The Ramblers notched two more baserunners the rest of the way, but didn’t get a runner past second.
Heidler fanned eight and allowed eight hits in getting the win. Windber’s Krista Walker struck out two and scattered six hits in the tough-luck defeat.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.