May 26—PORTAGE — Maryn Swank and Lauren Shaffer have been quite a combo for the Portage softball team this season and Tuesday afternoon's District 6 Class 1A softball quarterfinal match up with Homer-Center proved to be no different.
Swank went 62/3 innings before handing things over to Shaffer for the save as the second-seeded Mustangs hung on for the 6-5 win over the seventh-seeded Wildcats.
"We mix pitches well," Portage coach Brian Randall said. "(Swank) does a good job placing her pitches. She was hitting her spots today, but with the heat, and I think she was getting up around 100 pitches, at that point we started losing some of our velocity, so we thought that was the right time to make a change (to Shaffer)."
The Mustangs opened up the scoring with three runs powered by a pair of RBI doubles by Swank and Karli Karalfa to take a 3-0 lead.
Homer-Center did manage to make things interesting starting in the third when Julia King got the Wildcats on the board with an RBI triple.
Ashlynn Kerr later knocked in a run on a single in the fifth to cut that deficit down to one.
Swank, though, struck out 10 and issued no walks while allowing four runs. She was also 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and a double.
"I was able to work ahead of the count," Swank said. "Once you get that you can get them to chase some rise balls, curveballs out of the zone."
Portage restored that lead beginning in the fifth as Swank knocked in a run on a single and Sydney Castel contributed an RBI-single of her to extend the lead to three. Castel finished the day 2-for-3 while knocking in two runs.
Kenna Redfern added an insurance run on a single scoring Maddy Hudak before Homer-Center's rally — which included a two-run home run to right field from Julia King — ended up being stymied by Shaffer.
"She has big-time experience," Randall said of his closer. "Whether it's in track, basketball, softball, no moment is too big for her. It's another dynamic for them to face.
"Maryn's a lefty, Lauren's a righty so it's something different for the batter to look at it."
Portage will now turn its attention to No. 3 Williamsburg, which they will host at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Emily Marshall went six innings while giving up six runs on 11 hits and striking out one for Homer-Center (4-12).