Porter powers Trojans past HLV

STATE CENTER – You’d have to go back a long time to find the last time the West Marshall softball team saw an individual performance like the one Georgia Porter impressed the Rose Festival Tournament fans with on Saturday.

Farther than the current system used by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has to offer, in fact.

Porter went 4-for-4 with three doubles, four runs scored and seven RBIs, leading the Trojans to a 16-4, four-inning victory over HLV of Victor in their second of three games during Saturday’s annual tournament.

The freshman exceeded her own season-best mark of six RBIs by ripping a pair of two-run doubles and a three-run double during an incredible day at the dish. It came as a part of the Trojans’ second 21-hit game this summer.

West Marshall was defeated 6-0 by Collins-Maxwell/Baxter in the opening round and 9-1 by Greene County in the final wave of the Rose Festival games, but head coach Jordan Bentley was content with one his team’s best games standing out above the others.

“I would say it’s probably one of our better games we’ve played to date,” Bentley said after the tournament. “We bunted well, hit well, fielded well, pitched well – played a whole game – and we scored 16 runs.

“I told the girls that I thought they were going to start breaking some records.”

It’s the Trojans’ fifth double-digit offensive output of the season. They had none last year.

It was their first run rule-shortened triumph since the East Marshall Mustang Classic – two years ago. And Porter’s four-hit day was West Marshall’s first since McKenna Hotopp’s that same day in Le Grand.

The last time a Trojan drove in seven runs? Not since at least 2006. The IGHSAU no longer maintains single-game records. Paige Hotopp drove in six runs in West Marshall’s first game of the 2007 campaign, and Porter did it during an 18-6, seven-inning win at Van Meter earlier this month. That was when West Marshall racked up 21 hits the first time.

Saturday’s 21 hits included nine bunt singles and six doubles. Brooke Snider was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four runs scored. Karis Gibbs went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and four RBIs. Katie Price and Sadie Simatovich both finished 3-for-3 with three bunt singles, and Price scored three times.

Shannon Breja was 2-for-3 with a run and Nicole Riemenschneider was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Shelby Larsen reached on an error and drove in a pair. Kylie Cripps had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

Kallie Malloy, while hitless, earned the pitching win in the circle. She struck out six, walked one and hit one batter. Three of HLV’s four runs were earned on five hits and only one West Marshall error.

“Just the fact of having young players and young pitching, we aren’t consistent with anything yet,” Bentley said. “Those things (21 hits, 16 runs) don’t just happen, you’ve got to be good to do that, but it’s not happening consistently. I think it’s just a matter of growing up as a team and growing up as people, maturing.”

Gibbs and Jennifer Davis are the only seniors, while Sadie and Sammie Simatovich and Kenadey Porter, the Rose Festival Queen, are juniors. The rest of the Trojans’ roster are underclassmen, including seven eighth-graders.

The team averaged 2.84 runs per game over last season’s 31-game schedule. This year’s club has more than doubled that output, piling up 5.76 runs per game after Saturday’s 1-2 showing.

The Trojans (9-14) also exceeded last year’s win total with the victory over HLV, sandwiched in between a pair of low-scoring losses to CMB (10-10) and Greene County (16-5).

CMB scored five times in the fifth to break open a 1-0 game against the host Trojans. Back-to-back doubles by Paige Jurgens and Abby Applegate were a part of the Raiders’ six-hit inning that got helped along by an error and two walks.

Heather Jessen struck out five in the seven-hit shutout, walking one. Jurgens finished 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Snider, who took the loss, and Porter both had two hits. Breja, Larsen and Cripps added singles.

The momentum of their blowout win over HLV, which entered the tournament with an 8-5 record, was not enough to propel the Trojans past Greene County. A four-hour layoff spent wandering about town for the Rose Festival may have had something to do with it, but the Rams were no slouch either.

Greene County ace Marissa Promes struck out 10 and walked one, allowing seven hits and one unearned run. Emily Christensen led a 12-hit attack going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Hannah Onken was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Kayla Mobley was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs.

Porter surrendered three runs in each of the first two innings, suffering the loss. Snider went the final four innings in the circle.

Sadie Simatovich had two hits while Snider contributed a double in the defeat.

“You try to let the girls have some fun, enjoy the Rose Festival a little bit, but at the same time you’ve got to get them focused,” Bentley shrugged. “You’re dealing with high school-aged kids. It would be different playing in tournaments where you’re playing for something.”

A late cancellation left West Marshall’s bracketed tournament short of eight, so a rearranged schedule got three random games for nearly all of the teams in attendance.

“We’re hoping to get more teams so we can play for something and return the Rose Festival to what it used to be,” Bentley added. “Overall there were a lot of positives today.”

The Trojans dive back into NICL West Division play on Monday, hosting South Hardin for a 6 p.m. doubleheader.