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Lady Eagles stay alive after 2-0 win in game two
Winner of game three advances to Elite 8
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DEXTER — On paper, Eastside didn’t stand much of a chance against West Laurens in the second round of the Class AAA softball playoffs Wednesday. On the diamond, they did more than hold their own.

After dropping game one 4-1, the Lady Eagles bounced back to shutout the state’s No. 4 team 2-0 in game two thanks to clutch hitting and solid defense. Eastside ace Taylor Causey wasn’t too bad either, holding the Lady Raiders to just three hits in game two while striking out eight.

"The bad part of being a two seed is you have to travel but we were able to get the split and we’ll get the girls some rest and come back with gameplan and a new enthusiasm and hopefully play well," Eastside coach Jason Stokes said.

The Lady Eagles also woke up offensively, at least in key spots. After stumbling at the plate with runners on base in game one, Eastside got two-out hits from Savannah Upshaw and Bianca Reed in game two to score both runs.

"That second run especially was huge," Stokes said. "It was important more so for us getting the first run because they are used to scoring a lot of runs and I’m sure they feel like they can come back. We needed that run to get us going because we always seem to play better with a lead."


Game 1West Laurens 4, Eastside 1

Eastside also scored the first run in the opening game but the Lady Raiders scored two in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings to draw first


Amanda Hawkins drew a one-out walk in the fourth inning to start the rally and later scored on Kerstin Hilly’s sacrifice fly. Eastside bailed the Lady Raiders out when courtesy runner Taylor Maddox was doubled up on the play and they settled for just the one run.

West Laurens responded in the bottom of the fifth on Abi Leroy’s two-run home run to right. Battling swirling winds, Megan Hallock misplayed a popup in the infield before Leroy went yard down the line.

The Lady Raiders tacked on two more runs in the sixth thanks in part to some shoddy Eastside defense.


Game 2: Eastside 2, West Laurens 0

The Lady Eagles shook off their lackluster performance in the opener to control game two from the opening inning.

Causey retired the Raiders quickly in the first and Eastside took a 1-0 in the bottom of the inning on two hits. Victoria Reich reached on a one-out single then came around to score on Upshaw’s single.

Meanwhile Causey was much more affective in game two. She cruised through the first four innings then had to work around a pair of walks in the fifth. The turning point of the game came in the sixth. Causey retired the heart of West Laurens’ dangerous lineup thanks to some surgical pitching and stellar defense.

Third baseman Emily Almand made perhaps her two most important plays in the field in the inning, first on a scorching line drive which she recovered to throw out the runner after the ball kicked off her glove, then on a towering foul ball popup that appeared to go out of the field of play before she caught it just inches in front of the Raiders’ dugout. West Laurens managed a one-out single before the pop out but Hawkins gunned down courtesy runner Lauren Childers to end the inning.

Reed doubled home Hallock in the bottom of the inning for a much-needed insurance run, which it turned out, Causey didn’t need at all. Despite getting squeezed at the plate on a couple of close pitches and an throwing error by Almand on a ground ball that would have ended the game, she struck out Leroy with the bases loaded to escape the jam and knot the series at a game apiece.

"If there’s a tougher player out there mentally than her (Causey), I haven’t seen her," Stokes said. "Nothing ever rattles her. It amazes me. She was just locked in tonight."

The two teams played late Thursday with the winner advancing to the Elite Eight in Columbus. Check for complete coverage of game three.