A roaring crowd of fans, especially the “Dale-ians,” helped lift the Lady Eagles to an 11-1 home win against Eagle’s Landing Monday, advancing Eastside to the second round of the Region 4-AAAA tournament against Walnut Grove.
The Lady Eagles overcame Eagle’s Landing after getting bounced in the first round of the tournament last year, keeping them out of the state playoffs. Anchored by a strong outing from Molly Moon and the Lady Eagles’ defense, Eastside’s offense came alive to get the win Monday.
“I think they understood the significance of this game, and we were definitely much more mentally prepared for this game,” Eastside coach Heather Wood said.
“Our offense definitely came through for us. We did start out a little bit shaky on defense and even pitching-wise, so we were fortunate that our bats did come through for us,” Wood added.
Eastside shortstop Mckenzie “Taz” Powell had an unusual error to begin the game with a bad throw to first that allowed Eagle's Landing leadoff hitter Kylie Vannavong to get safely on safely at first. Vannavong eventually got to third on a couple of steals. She would score on a hit from Chloe Clavon, but that would be the only run from Eagle's Landing.
To answer the unearned run, Eastside’s Catlin Ray got on first, taking the free base. A sacrifice bunt from Brittany Medlin moved Ray to second, and Ray later stole third on a passed ball at the plate. Powell walked on the next at-bat. While Bailey Stewart was at bat Ray scored on a passed ball at home, but as Powell was attempting to steal third she was tagged out after popping up and off the bag after initially being ruled safe.
Stewart took the third free base of the contest, and Wood pulled her catcher for pinch runner, Ally Allgood. Allgood scored the second run of the inning after Miranda Hopper sent one flying to center field for a standup double.
Moon followed with a line drive to center that scored Hopper. Eastside ended the inning up 3-1.
Moon retired three of the four batters faced in the second to get out of the inning unscathed. With two outs and the bases loaded, Stewart grounded out to end the inning, but the offense wouldn’t leave that many players stranded again.
In the bottom of the third inning and the bases loaded again, senior right fielder Alexis DiBuccio hit a bases-clearing double to score all three runs. The Lady Eagles took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Eagle’s Landing was able to force Powell and Stewart into outs to begin the bottom of the fourth, but resiliently, Eastside got its offense going, starting with a single to right field by Hopper. She would score on a passed ball after two passed balls allowed her to steal second and third.
Later in the inning, the bases were loaded yet again with DiBuccio at bat. She walked, adding another RBI to her total. Ray made contact on the following play, but Eagles’ Landing’s defense couldn’t handle it and the error allowed two runners to score. Medlin added another hit in the inning to score DiBuccio and the Lady Eagles were up 11-1 entering the fifth inning.
In the fifth inning, all Eastside had to do was hold tight on defense to win via mercy-rule. The Rain started to come down after the game being pretty much dry before the fifth inning. Moon forced the first batter into a ground out, walked the second and struck out the third.
Then two quick, surprising hits from Eagle’s Landing loaded the bases. The “Dale-ians” were as loud as ever, and the defense got the out at first to end the game.
Eastside will travel to face Walnut Grove on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The last time these two teams met, Walnut Grove came away with a 15-0 win
“We do have to definitely re-focus to Walnut Grove,” Wood said. “A lot of Walnut Grove is mental so we have to just make sure we have them mentally prepared for Walnut Grove and the caliber of team that they are.”