Softball: Lake Central’s Lily Del Toro baffles Portage
BY JOHN O’MALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent April 30, 2013 9:28PM
Portage's Jalise McKnight crosses home plate after a hit by teamateHaley Hodges in the first inning against Lake Central during their game held at Lake Central High School on Tuesday April 30, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 30, 2013 11:16PM
ST. JOHN — The message board in the team’s dugout emphasized the task at hand for Lake Central before Tuesday’s Duneland Conference game with Portage.
Coach Jeff Sherman’s thought?
“Today is a new day. Protect the house!”
After a heartbreaking league loss at Crown Point on Monday, the blue Indians (16-7, 6-3) needed to rebound quickly to knock off hard-hitting Portage.
As it turned out, Tuesday not only turned out to be “a new day” for LC, but a very good day for pitcher Lily Del Toro.
The LC junior overcame a shaky start — allowing an RBI single to Portage’s Haley Hodges in the first inning — before finding her groove and leading LC to a 5-2 DAC win over Portage (12-4, 7-3).
Del Toro allowed five hits and recorded 11 strikeouts. During one stretch, she retired 12 straight batters — fanning eight of them.
“I’m one of those people who really needs to find a rhythm, and once I find that rhythm, I just go with it,’’ Del Toro said. “It’s just a matter of getting my pitches and working the stike zone.’’
Del Toro stymied Portage after the first inning.
“Del Toro threw the heck out of the ball today,’’ Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. “She threw us off. She had something we couldn’t handle. I don’t really know what it was, but we weren’t ready for it. She really did a good job for them.’’
Sherman praised Del Toro for not losing her composure or confidence.
“It would’ve been very easy to get everything on top of you there with the way those first three hitters started — single, walk, single,’’ he said. “To Lily’s credit, she really did a great job of settling down there and getting out of the inning.’’
Hodges’ RBI single in the top of the first inning and a run-scoring triple in the sixth by pitcher Kiley Jones — making it 4-2 — was all Portage mustered against Del Toro.
“I thought Lily did a good job of mixing speeds and she worked the ball in and out and in and out very well,’’ Sherman said.
Trailing 1-0, LC scored four unearned runs in the third courtesy of four consecutive Portage errors, which followed singles by Abbey Rauch and Ashley Nylen.
Another Portage error in the sixth inning led to another unearned run for LC, upping its lead to 5-2.
“We are cursed with the fact that we snowball after an error,’’ Hayes said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t dig ourselves out of this one.’’
Jones pitched well enough to win had Portage’s defense not let her down. The sophomore scattered five singles and didn’t allow an earned run.