By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Eastside Lady Eagles reach the Elite Eight for the second straight season
Eastside Columbus
Eastside's Donee Morain takes a swing at the ball in the Lady Eagles first game of the Elite Eight against Northgate.

The Eastside Lady Eagles’ 2023 campaign ended with their second consecutive Elite Eight appearance.

Following the trip to the Elite Eight, head coach Heather Wood spoke about her team’s performance and what she said to the team after elimaniation. 

“I give credit to Northgate, their pitcher did an outstanding job of containing our offense,” Wood said. “[Against] Kell, if a few things went differently, it could have been a difference in the game. But, I think one thing that I stressed to them was ‘Do not base your season or your success on just these last two games.’”

The Lady Eagles finished the season with a 23-7 record overall while finishing 15-3 in Region 8-AAAAA play. Eastside won the region and swept Lithia Srpings and Chattahoochee in Super Regionals.

Eastside’ third baseman, Donee Morain, felt that she saw the growth from the team throughout the season.

“As a team, we were locked in and prepared for this moment. Although it did not go as expected, it was clear to see that we were hungry to win,” Morain said. “I can see us learning that the mental part of the game is just as important as the other aspects.”

In Columbus, Eastside lost its first matchup 3-1 against the Northgate Lady Vikings. In the Lady Eagles’ second game, they lost 4-3 to the Kell Lady Longhorns.

“It is difficult when you do not have the outcome that you want in Columbus,” Wood said. “I think this team showed a lot of grit and desire to win throughout the season. In Columbus, there is a lot on the line and teams usually are playing their best at this point in the season.”

The team as a whole made up a lineup that Wood believes was consistent from top to bottom during the entire season.

“Everyone played a role and contributed to our success,” Wood said. “It was not just one or two players, we did not just have one star player or just one dominant pitcher. A lot of players contributed to our success, our batting order and our pitching rotation showed exceptional ability this season. I have also seen a lot of great development in our players.”

The Lady Eagles had two seniors on their roster, Dezaria “Z” Johnson and Lila Whitmire.

Wood spoke about how much the two seniors meant to the program and what standard they set.

“Our seniors have been key about leaving their mark and putting us on the map at a different level,” Wood said. “Lila and Z have participated at the varsity level for all four years, they supplied the team this year with experience and leadership. They will both surely be missed.”

Other than Whitmire and Johnson, the roster is full of players who will return in 2024 in hopes of reaching Columbus for a third straight season.

Along with Morain, Eastside will be returning names such as Anslee Saunchegraw, Allie Vaughn, Eva Davis and Kaela Lay.

“The thing about most of these girls is that they are fortunate enough to experience Columbus two years in a row, so it is almost an expectation now,” Wood said. “I think the fact that we are returning the majority of our roster, that brings a lot of confidence going into the season.”