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Causey leads Eastside past St. Pius X
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Taylor Causey's return as Eastside's ace has ignited the Lady Eagles. It may be just enough to propel them back to the state softball tournament Columbus.

Causey pitched her third straight shutout, drove in a pair of runs and Eastside topped St. Pius X 5-0 for their sixth win in eight games. The Lady Tigers open the region tournament Monday at Jackson.

"I think the team is playing better (as a result of Causey's return)," Eastside coach Jason Stokes said. "When she wasn't in, we hit a huge bump in the road and it seems like everyone has fueled (off of her return). They feel like they can win any game no matter what the deal is right now."

Causey wasn't dominant on the mound but she was effective. She struck out four batters and walked three but survived a shaky second inning and only gave up three hits over the final five innings against a quality opponent.

"We scheduled St. Pius because they are generally a state (playoff) contender and we wanted them at the end of the season to catapult us hopefully into the playoffs," Stokes said. "Win or lose, we wanted to see a good opponent heading into the region tournament."

Both teams managed to get runners on base in the first two innings but neither could score. Causey walked the bases loaded in the second but escaped unscathed before taking matters in her own hands at the dish

Eastside was primed to add to its lead in the fourth but ran into two outs on the base paths. After Savannah Upshaw drew one of her three walks on the night to leadoff the inning then advanced to third on Victoria Reich's single. But Upshaw broke for home on contact and was cut down trying to score on Reese Rogers' bunt. St. Pius also wiped away another runner on a play at third. Eastside also was caught at home in the sixth.

"We made a base running blunder by I'm actually glad we made the mistake now because we can learn from it," Stokes said. "We haven't been in that situation too many times this year and going into the playoffs, that situation — runners at first and third and your down or up by one, that comes up all the time so it was good for us to work on it."

Causey made it 2-0 when she singled home Amanda Hawkins in the fifth. She finished the night with two RBIs.

"Her being back — her bat in the lineup, her pitching — has changed the entire chemistry of the team," Stokes said.

St. Pius put a runner at first with an out in the sixth but Meagan Hallock turned an unassisted double play to retire the side and end the scoring threat.

Eastside took advantage of some wild pitching and broke the game open in the sixth. Four walks and a pair of wild pitches aided in the scoring and Hallock drove in one with a hard single.

Eastside's defense continued to shine in the top of the seventh. With a runner at first and two outs, Bianca Reed snared a sinking line drive in center to end the game.

Eastside heads into the Region 4-AAA tournament at Jackson Monday as the third seed. They play their first game at 4:30 p.m. With Causey back in the mix and pitching well and a bevy of recent wins under their belts, Stokes hopes the Lady Eagles are peaking at the right time.

"At the beginning of the year, when we were 10-2, I felt very confident about our chances to get to Columbus. Then some girls went down and we played poorly," he said. "We didn't look motivated and didn't look like a state contender. Now I'm right back to feeling good about our chances."

in the third with a sacrifice fly to score Erin Steele and give the Lady Eagles a 1-0 lead.