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Three up and three down
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The best advice for hitters before entering the batters box against Eastside's Brandi Richards is simple: Don't even bring your bat, because more than likely you're going to hit nothing but air.

Remarkably, Richards has been averaging two strikeouts per inning this year for the Lady Eagles. Her most recent dominating performance came against Madison County last week, when Richards struck out 18 batters in a 3-2 win.

In fact, Eastside went 4-0 that week to earn the No. 1 seed heading into the Region 8-AAAA Softball Tournament.

Based on her performance, Richards has been selected as the Chick-fil-A Prep Athlete of the Week.

"It wasn't just the pitching," said Richards. "We had everybody come through with the bat, and when we needed to everybody stepped up to the challenge."

On Tuesday, Richards will sign a softball scholarship with Auburn University Montgomery.

"(Brandi) has been doing so much better under pressure," said Eastside head coach Heather Wood. "She really came through for us against Madison County. She worked her way out of a lot of situations when the bases were loaded and that kind of thing, but she's been consistent all year long."

Currently, Richards leads the Lady Eagles in wins and strikeouts. Offensively, she has the second highest batting average on the team (.350).

"I think she's just dominated on the mound," remarked Wood, "and (has) done a great job for us all season. She's an all-around good athlete (and) good student."

According to Wood and Richards, the entire team has contributed this year, which has led them to an overall record of 24-6-1 and a 0.923 winning percentage in region (12-1).

"Everyone has had something to do with it," said Richards regarding Eastside's success. "Most of us grew up together so we all know how to work with each other. We work hard, but we also know how to enjoy it."

Wood echoed those words.

"I think it creates a lot of team unity and that's important for any team," said Wood pertaining to Eastside's experience. "If you don't have that then you're not going to be successful."

Only time will tell how far the Lady Eagles will go this year, but you can be sure about one thing: Richards is going to keep bringing it, so let the batter beware.