Portland opened up an eight-run lead in the first inning and cruised to a 14-2 win over Deering in an SMAA softball game Wednesday night at Payson Park.

It was the third consecutive win for the Bulldogs (8-1), who trail only unbeaten Scarborough in the Class A South Heal point standings.

“We’ve been playing with so much confidence,” Coach Robbie Ferrante said. “The kids have just been playing real hard. They just want to get better.”

Play was halted after 4½ innings because of the 12-run mercy rule.

“It was a tough start for us,” Deering Coach John Coyne said.

The Rams (1-7) opened the scoring when Mackenzie O’Donnell singled with one out and moved to third on two wild pitches and scored on an infield error.

Portland scored nine runs in the bottom of the first inning when O’Donnell, who started for the Rams, and reliever Kaylee Helmick had trouble finding the plate. The Bulldogs converted eight walks, four wild pitches, a hit batter, an error, a leadoff single by Morgan Boyle and Taylor Crosby’s two-run double into one of their biggest innings of the season.

“I knew (Deering) was struggling the last three games so we’ve worked on being patient,” Ferrante said. “When I grew up, a walk was just as good as a hit. I told (my players) once we jump on them, it was going to be tough for them to come back.”

The bottom of the first inning took nearly 30 minutes.

“Coach told us just to wait for your pitch and it will come,” said Sydney Gilbert. “We ended up getting some hits.”

Portland added a run when Elaina Legere led off the third with a double, moved up on a grounder and scored on an error.

The Bulldogs made it 13-1 in the third when they scored three runs on Jessica Brown’s single, an error, a two-run double by Kit Rosmus and Legere’s sacrifice fly.

Portland added a run in the fourth on an error and Gilbert’s run-producing single.

The Rams scored in the top of the fifth on singles by Helmick, Abby Elowitch and Taylor Kelly.

“We put a couple of innings together for offense,” Coyne said. “We need to put more of those innings together and we’ll turn this thing around.”

Gilbert, who scattered seven hits, struck out five and walked one, enjoyed coming out of the first inning with a huge lead.

“Actually it feels pretty good knowing you have that cushion,” she said.

“I was able to relax. If I made a (mistake) I knew we could come back from it.”

Legere, the freshman catcher for Portland, made a couple of great defensive plays.

In the first inning, she tracked down a wild pitch and threw to Gilbert, who was covering the plate, in time to keep O’Donnell from scoring from third.

In the fourth, she gunned down Elowitch, who tried to steal second base after reaching on an error.

“(Legere is) just a phenom freshman, and she’s getting better and better,” Ferrante said.

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