The Lady Eagles traveled up the road to face Walnut Grove in a doubleheader with the winner of a best-of-three series advancing to the Region 4-AAAA Championship. The Lady Warriors, last year’s region champions, topped Eastside in the first two games of the series, 5-1 and 4-2 respectively to advance to the Region Championship.
Eastside sent Molly Moon to the circle for game one and the Lady Warriors sent ace pitcher Kalya Poynter to the circle.
Neither offense got anything going until the second inning when an error with two outs and the bases loaded led to Walnut Grove scoring two runs in the inning. The Lady Eagles made it a one-run game when Alexis DiBuccio scored on a passed ball to make it 2-1 in the top of the third inning as Eastside left Ray stranded on third to end the top of the inning.
Eastside’s offense wasn’t able to put up anymore runs, as Poynter retired the side in order for the rest of the game but Walnut Grove added one run in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to take the contest, 5-1.
To begin the second game, Eastside sent Catlin Ray to the mound and Walnut Grove countered with Riley Patton.
Ray struck out the first two batters and things were looking great. Then Kylee Love and Poynter blasted back-to-back homeruns off the pitcher and took a 2-0 lead that stood until the bottom of the third inning.
Eastside had the bases loaded with just one out and Bailey Stewart struck out, giving the Lady Eagles little wiggle room. With the next at-bat Coley Edwards hit a single past second that scored two runs and made the game even at 2-2 entering the fourth.
The teams battled back and forth with neither team taking control for two innings. Poynter led off with yet another homerun to begin the sixth inning. The Lady Warriors added one more run in the inning and took their 4-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
After retiring Walnut Grove’s first three batters, Moon tried to rally her teammates in the dugout to begin the seventh inning, saying, “We gotta do it right here,” as they entered the dugout.
It seemed to have worked. The Lady Eagles started with two back-to-back singles, but then Walnut Grove called in Poynter to finish the game and finish she did. Poynter got the next three batters out and Walnut Grove won the game.
It was a heck of a series.
“I’m proud of the girls and the way they came out tonight. Their demeanor, their effort tonight. They performed well,” Heather Wood, Eastside head coach, said.
Eastside’s defense was good in both games making few errors, and it took three homeruns to beat them in the second game.
“We did what we could to keep their hitters off-balance, that’s why we did make a pitching change throughout the series,” Wood said. “They’re a great hitting team, a great offensive team, so we did what we could and my pitchers at least kept us in the game. Each one did.”
On Wednesday, Eastside will play the loser of the Hampton/Locust Grove in a best-of-three series for third place.