Porter takes extra-inning win over Lady Hornets

Apr. 2—HUNTSVILLE — The quest for a perfect district season ended Tuesday night for No. 4 Huntsville.

The Lady Hornets battled against Porter for seven innings as both teams were scoreless before Porter broke the tie in the top half of the eighth.

Porter (12-10, 2-3 District 15, 5A) scored three runs against senior Jaelynn Duke in the top of the eighth inning to leave with a shutout win over the Lady Hornets.

"It's a tough loss. Porter came in ready to play. They had a great game plan and executed it. We didn't make adjustments," Huntsville head coach Morgan Bryan said.

Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively, as there were eight hits all game. But Porter struck early. Duke faced a major jam in the first inning — after a throwing error by senior third baseman Aariss McHale.

Porter grabbed a single right after to put runners on first and second.

Duke turned it up a gear. With 159 strikeouts leading up to this point, Duke retired the next three batters via the punchout to retire the side.

But it wasn't until the eighth inning that Porter pressed again. The Lady Spartans grabbed a lead-off single from Layla Brown to put a runner on early. Duke attacked for a flyout and a strikeout to get things back in Huntsville's favor.

With a runner on first and two outs, Huntsville (22-4, 4-1 District 16, 5A) intentionally walked sophomore Avery Evans-Pickens, who was 1-3 with two strikeouts before that point.

The next pitch went past catcher Katie VonRosenberg at the plate, and the runners advanced 60 feet to put on the pressure.

Porter junior Kylie Rose belted a single that broke the game open and gave the Lady Spartans a 2-0 lead. The third walk allowed Kami Hayes another opportunity at the plate to make it a 3-0 game.

"Pickens has had a great bat for the last two years, and I respect her. She has been a great hitter, and Rose hadn't done anything. Rose came up and did her job. We got beat," Bryan said.

While tagged with a loss, it was another strong outing for Duke in the circle. The senior tossed a complete game on 119 pitches. In her eight innings, Duke struck out 13 Lady Spartan batters.

Porter collected six hits, but they were throughout the game, and outside of the eighth, they weren't timely.

But facing the lineup for a sixth time was the difference.

"She has been pitching well. Porter got her timing," Bryan said. "They ended up the better team tonight."

The Lady Hornet offense struggled to get hits, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. In 26 tries, Huntsville had three strikeouts, but every time they made contact, it was right to somebody.

One of the Lady Hornet's hits came from Duke in the sixth inning when she ripped a two-out triple that posed the Lady Hornet's lone threat. Outside of the triple, Huntsville's other hit came from freshman Angelique Hernandez in the third.

"I think it was a lack of focusing our game plan. We knew what we were seeing at the plate and did a good job communicating it," Bryan said. "We didn't execute or make adjustments at the end of the day. That's the bottom line."

While it was one loss, the District 16, 5A standings got shaken up. Huntsville remains at the top but are tied with Lufkin at 4-1. The Lady Packs' lone loss came at the hands of Huntsville to kick off district play.

Now, the Lady Hornets will have a chance to create some separation against Lufkin on Friday.

The Lady Pack head to Huntsville for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch Friday at the Lady Hornet softball complex.