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Eastside loses stronghold on 1st place
McKenzie "Taz" Powell looks to get Eastside's offense going in the seventh inning.

Locust Grove and Eastside battled in a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday, but it was the Lady Wildcats that escaped with the 2-0 win ending Eastside’s reign of sole possession of first place by snapping the Lady Eagles’ nine-game win streak.

Eastside had been the lone undefeated team in Region 4-AAAA with an 8-0 record before falling to the Lady Wildcats. Locust Grove sent one pitcher to the circle and she (E. Daniels) blanked the Lady Eagles, striking out 16 at the plate for a complete game no-hitter. Eastside’s Catlin Ray pitched a great game too scattering six hits across the contest, but it wasn’t enough to stop Locust Grove from winning.

“I was very pleased with Cati and I was very pleased defensively with how we did. I felt like Cati put us in a great position to win, but just failure to do well at the plate cost us the game,” Heather Wood, Eastside head coach, said.

Ray opened the game forcing two straight outs, but then two Wildcat batters got on with singles and a passed ball put both in scoring position. Ray and the Eastside defense kept a steady hand and they were able to get the following batter out without giving up a run.

Neither team got much going in those first couple of innings, but Locust Grove scored its first run in the third. Ray had the leadoff hitter of the inning at the plate with a full count working for her. But on a 3-2 pitch, in what looked like a strike down the middle, ball four was called to the surprise and dismay of many fans in attendance.

That walked batter would eventually score.

The two batters after the leadoff were both hit into outs. Then, Ray walked another batter with two outs and two runners on first and second. A hit would score the run before Eastside recorded its last out to end the top of the third.

Daniels, with her exceptional speed, was forcing Eastside into tough situations at the plate and freezing their bats, as many third strikes went by with players looking. Wood called a quick meeting in the dugout midway through the third inning before the Lady Eagles went up to bat and she told them to stay up in the dugout and be aggressive at the plate.

Wood’s motivation tactics didn’t work, as the Lady Eagles were retired in order.

The Lady Wildcats totaled one hit in the top of the fifth inning, but it led to a tag-and-run to score the last run of the game. Eastside was retired in order in the fifth and sixth innings, but junior center fielder Brittany Medlin – who had a great catch to stop a hit in the fourth inning – managed to get on base from a Locust Grove error. However, the Lady Wildcats would get the next batter out to win the game.

Wood gathered her team around in the outfield to talk about the game afterward.

“I told them I appreciate their effort and intensity tonight. They brought a lot of energy to the field, as a coach I appreciate that. They played the full seven innings just like I asked them to do,” Wood said. “However, I was very disappointed with our approach at the plate. We failed to make adjustments, we failed to see pitch patterns, we failed to execute during any situations so we’ve got to do better at the plate especially when we face a pitcher like that.”

“I’m hoping that they learn from this and again, just be smarter ball players at the plate. Making sure we look at pitch patterns, making sure we make those adjustments and don’t continue to make those same mistakes we made this game,” Wood added.

With just a couple of games left in region play and four teams tied with one loss in Region 4-AAAA (Eastside, Locust Grove, Hampton and Walnut Grove) the seeding will be determined by who wins their final games. If no one wins or everyone loses then it’ll come down to tiebreakers.