East­side soft­ball wins in top of the eighth

The Covington News - - Sports - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

The Ea­gles’ of­fense fi­nally woke up, the Ea­gles’ de­fense held on in key mo­ments and the East­side Ea­gles main­tained a spot in the Re­gion 8-AAAA soft­ball tour­na­ment on Wed­nes­day.

East­side de­feated Stephens County 7-3 on the road, but took an ex­tra in- ning to do so.

With the game tied 2-2 go­ing into the top of the eighth in­ning, East­side started with a run­ner on sec­ond, Jor­dan Hilty, thanks to the in­ter­na­tional tiebreaker rule, and Taz Pow­ell bunted her to third. Hilty slid in safe as Stephens County’s de­fense tried to get her out rather than go­ing for the safe play in Pow­ell at first.

The next bat­ter up, Kris- ten Hil­ley hit a sin­gle up the mid­dle to score Hilty, moved Pow­ell to sec­ond and broke the stale­mate 3-2, in fa­vor of East­side (11-10, 4-3). Katie Ray fol­lowed with a sin­gle to right to score Pow­ell and Hil­ley to give East­side a 5-2 lead.

Sa­van­nah Up­shaw then sac­ri­ficed Ray’s pinch run­ner over from first to third, who then came home on a sin­gle by Bai­ley Ste­wart. Vic­to­ria Re­ich fol­lowed with a dou­ble, which scored Ta­maria Woods, pinch run­ning for Ste­wart to fin­ish off East­side’s five-run eighth in­ning.

The Ea­gles al­lowed just one run in the bot­tom of the eighth to hold on.

Hold­ing on is ex­actly what East­side had to do in ear­lier in­nings with run­ners

on sec­ond and third and no outs in the sixth and a run­ner on first with the heart of the or­der com­ing up in the seventh.

In the sixth in­ning, Stephens County tried to bunt its two run­ners over but couldn’t get it down and Reese Rogers man­aged to get the strike out. The next bat­ter up tried an­other bunt but it was a line drive to Up­shaw charg­ing the bat­ter’s box from first base, who caught the fly and stepped on first for the dou­ble play.

“We were very for­tu­nate we got out of that in­ning un­scathed,” East­side coach Ja­son Stokes said.

In the bot­tom of the seventh, Stephens County again got the lead­off run­ner on base. This time, how­ever, East­side got two quick outs thanks to a trick play.

The sec­ond bat­ter of the in­ning hit a ball to Rogers in the circle, who then threw to Pow­ell cov­er­ing first from sec­ond af­ter Up­shaw ran up on the bunt at­tempt. Pow­ell then faked the throw to sec­ond as the Stephens’ County run­ner was charg­ing the bag on the bunt.

Jor­dan Hilty, cov­er­ing sec­ond base from short­stop, turned as if the ball had got­ten past her and the cen­ter fielder faked run­ning to­ward the fence, pre­tend­ing to chase the ball. The run­ner at sec­ond fell for the ruse and ran to­ward third, where Pow­ell threw the ball which was in her glove the whole time for the out.

Those two big in­nings and East­side’s ex­plo­sion in the eighth helped the Ea­gles stay in the race for a pos­si­ble home field ad­van­tage in the re­gion tour­na­ment.

The Ea­gles cur­rently have three losses, along with Lanier, which played Mon­roe Area Thurs­day night. Lump­kin County has just one loss but has two more games re­main­ing be­fore the re­gion tour­na­ment.

The tour­na­ment, which be­gins Sept. 25 gives byes to the top two teams, Wal­nut Grove and Madi­son County, and puts the third seed at home against the sixth seed and the fourth seed against the fifth.

East­side plays its fi­nal re­gion game when it hosts Ch­es­ta­tee Wed­nes­day at 5:30 and plays its fi­nal home game Thurs­day night against Salem.

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