It has been a long time coming, but the Eastern Lady Eagles finally have their first Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball victory.
Fighting from behind to force a tie and then record the win, Eastern defeated the visiting Valley Lady Indians 6-5 on Wednesday night, April 28.
It was a walk-off walk, drawn by senior Chloe’ Dixon, that pushed Kaylee Jones home as the game’s winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
To get to that point, Eastern had to rally several times.
Valley had scored the initial run in the top of the first inning by turning a walk into a run.
The Lady Eagles responded to tie it up by scoring in the bottom of the second. Dixon led off with Eastern’s first hit of the game. She stole second base and went to third on a groundout from Skylar White before scoring on a single from Emma Young, 1-1. A flyout and a strikeout ended the inning.
The Lady Indians fired back with their biggest inning of the game, plating three runs in the top of the third, 4-1 on three hits, an Eastern error and a hit batter. Just one of those runs was earned. It ended up being the only earned run Valley had in the entire game.
In the home half of the third, the Lady Eagles generated a pair of runs to get within one. Jones led off with a bunt single and stole second base. Then freshman Megan Nickell gave herself and Jones the opportunity to take an easy jog home, blasting a two-run homer over the right field fence, 4-3.
Defensively, the Lady Eagles got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth inning, but they went down in order in the bottom half.
Valley plated its final run in the top of the fifth by taking advantage of back-to-back Eastern errors, 5-3. Not giving up, the Lady Eagles countered by tying the game in the home half of the frame. Jones led off with her second single of the night before Nickell followed with a triple to sent her home, 5-4. Later, Andee Lester had the groundout to push Nickell across the plate, knotting the game at 5-5.
The Lady Indians had back-to-back hits to start the sixth inning before Lester spun back-to-back strikeouts in the circle. The next batter hit a fly ball to Jones in center field to end the threat. Eastern’s batters went down in order in the home half of the sixth.
Answering defensively, the Lady Eagles took Valley’s batters down in order with three straight groundouts. That allowed them to go into the home half of the inning tied at 5-5, setting up for the walk-off win.
To start that final half inning, Jones led off with a single and moved to second base on an error charged to Valley’s left fielder. Valley opted to intentionally walk Nickell before a groundout from Hannah Felts moved both runners into scoring position. Then Valley opted to intentionally walk Lester as well, filling the bases to create a force-out at every base. Then Dixon stepped into the batters’ box and battled to a full count at the plate, before drawing the walk needed to push Jones across the plate as the winning run, 6-5.
Nickell and Jones led the way from the plate for EHS in the victory. Nickell was 3-for-3 with a home run, a triple, three RBIs and a pair of runs. Jones was 3-for-3 with three runs and a stolen base. Lester finished 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Dixon was 1-for-3 with a run, a stolen base and the winning RBI. Young was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
In pitching for the win, Lester gave up five runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits and four strikeouts.
The Lady Eagles were set to travel to Portsmouth West Monday evening, weather permitting. They will be back home to take on Wheelersburg on Wednesday before heading to Western on Friday.
VHS — 103 010 0 — 5
EHS — 012 020 1 — 6