the Warriors a 7-3 lead at the end of the inning.
Oconee County capped the first game’s scoring when Hanna Manders’ single into the right-center gap generated two more runs against Rusk who entered the game in the sixth inning in relief of Beshears.
Game two offered more of the same, except Oconee took less time to put the Eagles away. Fambrough opened things up with a solo homer in the bottom of the first. Then brought home a second run on a sacrifice pop fly in the bottom of the third to give Oconee a 2-0 lead. On the very next at-bat, Hannah Patridge walked onto first after a wild pitch, which extended the Warriors lead 3-0.
And after Maura Grace Dickens’ double pushed the score to 4-0, Wood decided to shut down Beshears for the rest of the night. The bottom completely fell out shortly after when Kaitlyn Corral hit a big shot over an outfielder’s head with the bases loaded. A fielding error turned the hit into an inside-the-park grand slam homer which gave the Warriors a 9-0 lead.
They would add two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, while Eastside finally got on the board in the fifth inning, but couldn’t cut the deficit enough to prevent a run rule.
In the end, Wood was complimentary of her team’s effort, despite the sloppiness, and, perhaps looking ahead already to 2017, she heaped high praise on Rusk’s overall performance — particularly on the mound in the absence of injured senior pitcher Molly Moon.
“It did (hurt us) to have Molly out,” she said. “I knew that lack of depth would catch up to us. “But I think (Kailey) played well, given the circumstances, and hopefully she’ll learn from it and it will cause her to develop as well.”
As the team gathered for its final post game together, there was nothing Wood could say to stop the tears from flowing.
“They’re upset,” she said. “Each of them are taking the blame. And because so many of them chose not to play in college, it’s just really difficult.”
Wood said she made sure, however, to keep her last post game speech to her seniors positive.
“You never want to give that speech to the girls,” she said. “I imagine a lot of what I say goes in one ear and out the other. It’s difficult when they’re celebrating on your field. But I tried to reiterate to them, don’t let the season define you. We got to the second round again. We won a region championship. It’s just that somethings don’t work out the way you want them to. And that’s a life lesson as well.
“I just wanted to reiterate to them what we accomplished and how proud I am of them.”