Ricki Powers more than lived up to her name earlier this week.
The Eastside senior right-handed pitcher played the workhorse Tuesday evening by throwing 138 pitches and going the distance for the Lady Eagles in their 7-1 victory over Dacula at Eastside Field. Her teammates backed her up with clutch hitting and a fifth inning defensive gem, as well.
"She always puts us in a position to win," Eastside head coach Heather Wood said, "and we played good defense behind her today. I'm proud of them."
The Lady Eagles improved to 5-3 overall, 2-0 in Region 8-AAAA. That is right where they want to be at this stage of the young season, according to Wood.
"We stand a really good chance in the region," she said, adding that she was happy to have early games against two of their toughest region foes - Dacula and Loganville - behind them now.
Sierra Petree and Amanda Henderson each had two of Eastside's nine hits, driving in two runs apiece. Bri Chambers played the leadoff role to perfection, reaching base during all four of her plate appearances with a single and three walks.
The offensive surge came against Dacula (4-2-2, 2-1) starter Allie Miles, who struggled with her command throughout the game by walking seven over six innings and hitting one batter.
Miles committed the cardinal sin of walking Eastside leadoff hitter Chambers in the bottom of the first inning, then promptly compounded her mistake by walking the next batter, Sabrina Chandler. Both would eventually come around to score as the Eagles took an early 2-0 lead.
It was all the offense Powers would need on this particular day. She was rarely in danger, allowing Dacula just one unearned run in the top of the fifth. That would turn out to be the Lady Falcons' best hope for a big inning.
Dacula's Megan Little led off with a walk and quickly advanced to second on a pitch to the backstop. The next batter, Dixie Stewart, battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before dropping what looked to be a run-scoring bloop single over third base.
Unfortunately for Stewart, Eastside shortstop Laura Rodriguez had other ideas.
Rodriguez made the defensive play of the game, laying out to snag the flare just before it hit the chalk in shallow left field, keeping Little at second and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. While Little would eventually come around to score on a throwing error by Powers, the pitcher never lost her focus, inducing a ground ball to Rodriguez to end the threat.
All afternoon, Powers seemed able to reach back for a little extra when she needed it most. While perhaps not as overpowering as her fire-balling teammate Brandi Richards (17 strikeouts against Loganville on August 21), Powers was certainly no less effective.
The hurler scattered four hits over the seven innings against Dacula, striking out six while walking only two.
"I was really confident in my curve and my rise ball today," Powers said afterward. "I didn't have a good change-up at first, but it came around later."
Powers obviously still had something left in the tank at the end. Although she had already thrown 120 pitches when she took the mound during the top of the seventh inning, she still recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Dacula's first two hitters. After Sarah Bentley grounded out weakly to second baseman Petree for the final out, Powers and the Lady Eagles had secured the region victory.
Eastside will next visit Salem at 5 p.m. Thursday during region action.