It’s hard enough to travel and win on the road in the playoffs, but that task became much more difficult for Eastside traveling to play Cook County when Lady Eagle’s pitcher Molly Moon dislocated her knee in Eastside’s first game against Hampton – a series that eventually allowed the Lady Eagles to clinch the No. 3 seed – but although Moon won’t require surgery, she is out for the season.
Without Moon, Catlin Ray would have to step up and hold down the circle in back-to-back games to get the Lady Eagles a victory. Eastside was clicking on all cylinders against Cook County and won the series with 7-2 and 5-4 victories. The Lady Eagles will now host North Oconee on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
We talked to head coach Heather Wood about beating Cook and preparing for North Oconee in this Q&A.
The Covington News: Just tell me a little bit about both wins.
Heather Wood: I’m extremely proud of the players and how they competed this series. Cook was a solid program, a well-coached program and we were fortunate to come out on top. Cati-Ray stepped up for us on the mound and carried us through 14 innings. That was a concern for us going into the series because Molly is hurt and she is out for the season, but I thought she handled herself well on the mound. Offensively several players came through for us, so I think everything was a complete team effort throughout the whole series.
CN: Talk about your offense. I know you guys scored seven runs in the first game.
Wood: We did. Several players stepped up. Corley Edwards had some big hits, Taylor Baggett, our second baseman, Alexis DiBuccio, Brittany Medlin – they all came through with their bats so I felt like we definitely had a good approach at the plate and I thought we did well overall, offensively.
CN: With Molly being out, how does that affect you guys going forward as far as your pitching goes?
Wood: “She’s carrying more weight now than she had to, but she did very well for us down in Cook. She handled herself very well. Really stepped up for us on the mound. I think her being a senior and I think this time of the year there’s so much adrenaline and so much motivation around all these games that I think that’s assisting with helping her kind of push through and go longer than maybe she’s had to this season.
CN: Obviously you guys played well enough on defense, but talk about the your defense played behind Cati-Ray.
Wood: I think our defense was solid. I was very pleased with them. I felt like our defense has been one of our strengths throughout the season, so yeah overall everything came together this series. Cook was very solid, fundamentally sound, well-coached team and I think with our defense behind Cati and our bats coming through we were able and fortunate to come out on top.
CN: And now you get to host the next game, right?
Wood: We do. I was shocked. I thought we’d be traveling to Carrollton. Carrollton’s usually an elite eight team every year so we’re excited about that.
CN: Who’d you draw?
Wood: We have North Oconee. So we’re having to shift our gears and refocus. They have such good tradition there. They’ve had a couple state titles and their always very competitive, so we know that we’ve got some competition for this series.
CN: Have you guys had a chance to play them at all or recently?
Wood: We have not. There have been a couple teams that we’ve played some of the same teams. I don’t know if we’ve ever played them. We used to be in the same region with Oconee, so years we used to travel there some, but I know we’ve never played North Oconee. Like I said, they’re always competitive. They’ve been pretty hot the past couple weeks and upsetting Carrollton that did give them some momentum coming into next week. But we know we’ve definitely gotta bring our A-game if we want to compete with them.
CN: Is there anything the team is working on specifically to gear up for that next game or is there something that you want to correct from that last game?
Wood: Well we always try to mentally prepare them as much as possible, as we did with Cook. Our defense has to continue to be strong.. We know they’re gonna have some good bats, we know they’re gonna put the ball in play, so I think that’s one of our main focuses is to continue with our defense. Our defense will keep us in games and then of course focus on our offensive approach and making sure we go up to the plate with a plan.
CN: Is there anything else you’d like to add coach?
Wood: We’re excited to be playing at home. This season we’ve had great support and great fans, so I think that’ll give us some confidence and momentum going into Wednesday night.