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Eastside softball remains undefeated in region play
Junior McKenzie Walker rushes to third base in Tuesday's 14-1 victory over Salem. - photo by Mariya Lewter

A hot start was key to the Eastside High School softball team’s 14-1 victory at Salem Tuesday.

Though neither team scored in the first two innings, two hits by Ashleigh Williams and Kailey Rusk in the first inning got the Eagles’ momentum going early. Salem’s tight outfield defense in the second inning gave the Eagles three quick outs, but the Seminoles failed to capitalize off a walk to send the game rapidly to the third inning.

Eastside then converted hits into runs in the third as Williams, McKenzie Walker and Ally Allgood scored three in a row before the first out of the inning was even called. Senior Alyssa Betts hit once more before the game was turned back over to the home team.

The Seminoles scored once in the bottom of the third when catcher Alysee Dobbs collided with a runner and hit the ground before being able to make the tag.

Eastside responded in the fourth with two runs off three hits and strong defense to force the Seminoles to retire three batters in a row.

After a scoreless fifth inning for both teams, Eastside turned up the heat in the six. The Eagles churned out nine runs in an inning that saw every batter in the lineup, with four players batting twice before the final out was called. Salem’s once-solid defense began to collapse, allowing the Eagles to notch 11 runs in the inning.

“That happens sometimes when pressures come on,” Eastside head coach Heather Wood said of the defense collapse.

“Sometimes it causes your defense to fall apart. We’ve been there, so I understand when that happens later in the game. I will give them credit. They made some good plays. Their third baseman is very athletic and I was very impressed with her.”

The Seminoles failed to score in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles took home the 14-1 mercy-rule victory.

The Eagles notched 20 hits in Tuesday’s game, while nine different players scored runs. Starting pitcher Lauren Beshears had six strikeouts, and junior Walker scored four runs.

Wood praised her team’s performance but also emphasized the need to packing on the runs earlier in the game.

“I felt like our bats sometimes take a little while to come around,” Wood said. “We usually have to adjust and see the pitcher one time through, but we did. We were able to put the ball in play and play solid defense. Lauren I thought threw well for us throughout the game. It took her an inning or so to get settled. One thing we’re trying to work on is maybe not waiting so late in the game to put more runs on the board. Other than that, I’m pleased with our performance today.”

The Eagles are now 9-4 on the season and 6-0 in Region 4-AAAA, with Tuesday’s game being their sixth double-digit win of the year. They will return home Thursday to face region opponent Woodward Academy at 5:30 p.m.