Portland out-hit Eaton Rapids 7-5, but the Greyhounds prevailed on the scoreboard, winning their sixth consecutive district softball title with a 3-1 victory over the Raiders in the district final on June 2.
Previously, the Greyhounds advanced to the district final with a 9-0 win over CAAC Gold rival Charlotte in the semifinals.
It was something of a repeat performance for Eaton Rapids, who faced the same two teams in the semifinals and final, Charlotte and Portland respectively, as in the Softball Classic.
But this final bore little resemblance to the one in the Classic, in which the Greyhounds pounded Portland 12-0 in five mercy-shortened innings.
“We knew that it was going to be a tougher game than that one,” Eaton Rapids coach Scott Warriner said. “Fortunately, we were able to punch across some key runs when we needed to.”
Julia Cooper, Bailey Baker and Elizabeth Prieskorn drove in the ER runs with RBI singles in the third, fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
Portland, on the other hand, stranded runners at third base in three of the first four innings, leaving the bases loaded in the first, and scored their only run on the last play of the game, a two-out RBI single by Olivia Platte. Platte was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double to end the game.
Kate Laverty picked up the win in the circle, pitching out of jams in the first and second innings and giving up just the one earned run.
“I knew that were going to give them the best shot we had, and I think we did,” Portland coach Jack Anderson said.
The district win was all the sweeter due to the competiton, accoring to Warriner.
“This was a very tough district,” he said. “Five of the six teams had more that 20 wins, two of them had more than 30 wins. It was a tough road, but this will only make us better.”
The district win improved the Greyhounds to 37-4. Portland was the other team with 30 wins, finishing their season 31-8.
Eaton Rapids were to play in their regional tournament at DeWitt on June 9, after this paper went to press. The winner of that regional will play in the Division 2 state quarterfinals at Hope College in Holland on Tuesday, June 12, for the right to play ing the state final four at Battle Creek on June 15 and 16.