Other than a stellar fifth inning that saw Newton score all five of its runs, Eastside — rocking the pink unis on Monday — owned the game and the rivalry this season making them 2-0 to finish the series against its rival, as the Lady Eagles ran away with a 13-5 victory.
Molly Moon stood strong in the circle for Eastside, through the first four innings Moon allowed just four hits. The Lady Rams had a strong first inning despite Moon’s prowess on the mound.
Ciara Bryan led off with a double. Then after a hit, Ashleigh Williams played it smart and faked a throw to first to catch Bryan stealing third. The Lady Rams would get one more hit to put a runner in scoring position, but with runners at first and second the Eastside defense wouldn’t allow another hit and got out of the inning safely.
In the bottom of the first, Eastside made sound decisions at the plate and put the ball in play where it couldn’t be caught to take a lead it would never relinquish. After a couple of walks, Williams hit a blooper behind second to score two runs.
The Lady Eagles kept pounding in the second inning when they scored four runs, including Madison Hopper’s two-run homer that got the entire crowd excited as Eastside took a 6-0 lead.
Caitlin Ray blasted a two-run homer of her own in the fourth inning, which helped propel the Lady Eagles to an 11-0 lead. It looked like that would be it for the Lady Rams, but they showed heart and came out shooting in the fifth.
An error and a hit put two on for Netwon’s highly touted star Bryan, and she didn’t disappoint. Bryan knocked one deep and over the fence to put three runs on the board for Newton. Bryan put on a superb performance against Eastside. She went 3-3 with one homerun, and was a single shy of hitting for the cycle.
“There’s nothing you can say about her, except she’s 100 percent pure ball player,” Lady Rams’ coach Ashley Coles said. “She’s 100 percent gonna give you her all. She’s gonna hustle no matter the situation. She’s gonna hit no matter the situation, and she’s gonna do what I say is the right thing nine times out of 10. Is she a human and makes mistakes? Of course. She does things that I feel like in clutch situations, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Shortly after Bryan’s homer, the Rams had the bases loaded and Eastside head coach called time to talk to Moon and the rest of the team.
“I just told her to stay confident,” Wood said. “She’s got good (defense) behind her. She threw an excellent game. I just wanted her to stay up, keep the defense behind her and keep working as she had been doing. Some of ‘em were just little bloopers, where we couldn’t get to ‘em. I think she was still throwing well, but it was just in spots where we couldn’t get it. I just told her, ‘Stay confident, she’s fine. Let’s go, let’s focus on the batter.’”
Moon did just that. After two more runs scored, Moon and the Lady Eagles got out of the inning and put the game away with two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“We struggled some at the plate throughout the season, so this was definitely a good game for us to gain momentum because we do have two region games this week. I thought this was a great way to go into (Tuesday),” Wood said.
When asked about the Newton’s sluggish performance offensively up until the fifth inning, Coles said, “I definitely think that all it is, is mental. They wanted to go out there and hit. They had the ability the whole game to hit it. They just got fired up and hit it right there. I’m proud that they didn’t lay down with the score being the way it was.”
“I know we have some hot bats in the lineup,” Coles added. “Obviously Ciara leads the team, she gets a hit almost every time. We got some other hot bats, some shots. I just think that has to be done from the get-go and be a continuous thing.”
As for their pitching, Coles was disappointed in the effort after a successful weekend.
“I really hold that close to me because I do teach both of them. I felt like they weren’t really putting their all out there,” Coles said. “I do agree that they weren’t hitting shots. We had two home runs off us and Madison Hopper hit three shots off us, but I will say if our pitching would have came out on their A-game like we saw this past weekend down in Morgan County half of those runs would not have been scored because they wouldn’t have been able to put the bat on the ball.”