COVINGTON, Ga. — In a showing of pure domination, the Eastside Eagles softball team controlled every aspect of their region opener against Luella leading to an 8-0 lead before the game received a mercy rule prematurely ending it after five innings.
“This is what we were hoping for,” said Eastside head coach Heather Wood “We wanted to get out front in our region and not dig ourselves into a hole, so I think it was important for us to get that first win.”
Eastside’s offense struck first in the bottom of the first inning when Jordan Rittenbacher launched a sacrifice fly into center field to score two runners. During the third inning, Kailey Rusk would hit one of her two doubles of the game, allowing two more runners to score and extending the Lady Eagles’ lead to 4-0.
The bats would not let up in the bottom of the fourth inning, where Eastside would score four more runs off big plays, including back to back doubles from Rittenbacher and sophomore Alysee Dobbs, and a triple from Dani Fairley, who all performed strong at the plate, allowing the Eagles to take that commanding 8-0 lead.
“They came around at the right time today with their hitting,” Wood said. “I definitely see a lot of things that I’m very pleased with, and a lot of things that are going in our direction as far as adjustments at the plate and then some of our at-bats. There are definitely things that we can continue to work on.”
While the hitting was in favor of Eastside, it was a brilliant performance on the mound from sophomore Kailey Rusk who threw a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts.
“I think she’s really grown a lot and developed since last season,” Wood said. “One thing I’ve been so pleased with is her presence on the mound and her demeanor. I’m excited to have her on the mound this season.”
For Rusk, there were two simple aspects of preparing for this important game that helped create such a strong pitching performance.
“Going out and warming up is a big part of pitching, also making sure I’m hitting my spots,” Rusk said. “For hitting, I have to make sure to keep my shoulder in and just relax and not think too much.”
Rusk contributed in a big way at the plate as well, as she went 2-for-2 with two doubles, a walk and two RBIs.
Despite the successes at the plate and on the mound, there is still room from improvement according to Wood.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” she said. “One area that we definitely have to grow in is our base running, but this team has a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing them grow after each game.”
Although it is early in the season, Rusk noted that the team’s goal is sure — winning the region again and making it to Columbus. However, looking ahead to the next game, Wood stated something else a bit more basic, other than base running, that she believes the team can still improve upon.
“We really just want to continue to work on fundamentals,” she said. “Fundamentals and repetition are things that we are just going to continue to work on throughout the whole season.”