TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — So much for a pitchers’ duel.
The Eastern and Southern softball teams combined for 35 hits, including eight home runs, as the host Lady Eagles earned a 23-19 victory over the Lady Tornadoes, in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division showdown on Wednesday night at Don Jackson Field.
The offensive showcase began in the top of the first inning, as Southern (7-9, 7-6 TVC Hocking) scored four runs, three of which came on Paige VanMeter’s first home run of the night.
The Lady Eagles (13-3, 12-2) answered in a big way in the bottom of the inning. EHS junior Sidney Cook hit a two-run home run, her first of the night, pulling Eastern within one. Katlyn Barber followed it up with a home run of her own, tying the game at four.
Later in the first inning, Kelsey Casto hit a two-run homer, giving the Lady Eagles a 6-4 lead.
Southern was held scoreless in the second inning, and EHS took advantage. Eastern’s lead grew to 11-4 after scoring five runs in the second inning, which was highlight by a two-run double by Katlyn Barber and a two-run single by Hannah Bailey.
The Lady Tornadoes made up the seven-run deficit in just one inning, tying the game at 11 in the top of the third inning, which featured VanMeter’s second home run of the game.
Eastern reestablished its lead with four runs in the bottom of the third frame, which featured Cook’s second homer of the game.
Southern tied the game at 15 in the top of the fourth inning, as VanMeter hit a grand slam for her third and final home run of the game.
The Lady Eagle lead was reestablished with Cook’s third and final home run of the game, and the EHS lead was expanded to 18-15 by the end of the fourth inning.
Southern failed to score in the top of the fifth, and a two-out SHS error in the bottom of the frame allowed EHS to push its lead to 19-15.
The Lady Tornadoes answered the call one more time, scoring four times on three walks and two hits, to tie the game at 19 in the top of the sixth inning.
Eastern scored its 20th run — the game-winning run — on the second of back-to-back doubles by Taylynn Rockhold and Ally Barber, in the bottom of the sixth inning. EHS added three insurance runs in the frame, as Hannah Bailey singled home Ally Barber, and then Cook doubled home Bailey and Emmalea Durst.
SHS recorded a single in the top of the seventh, but a double play ended the Lady Tornadoes night and sealed the 23-19 EHS victory.
The pitching victory went to Eastern junior Elaina Hensley, who pitched the first .1 innings and then came back in for the final 4.2 frames. Hensley struck out six, while surrendering 14 runs, 10 earned, on 12 hits and seven walks.
Sophia Carleton pitched 2.0 frames of relief for EHS, striking out two, while allowing five runs, two earned, on three hits and two walks.
The loss in the record book went to SHS junior Sydney Cleland, who struck out one and allowed 23 runs, 15 earned, on 20 hits and six walks.
The Eastern offensive surge was undoubtedly led by Cook, who was 4-for-5 with three home runs, one double, five runs scored and seven runs batted in.
Katlyn Barber was 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, four runs scored and three RBIs, Durst was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and one RBI, while Casto was 2-for-3 with a home run, one run scored and three RBIs.
Ally Barber went 2-for-2 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs, Rockhold went 2-for-5 with a double and three runs scored, Bailey went 2-for-5 with one run scored and three RBIs, while Courtney Fitzgerald went 2-for-6 with two runs scored. Cera Grueser scored twice in the win, while Abbie Hawley scored once and drove in one run.
VanMeter led the charge for the Purple and Gold, going 3-for-4 with three home runs, four runs scored and a game-high nine RBIs.
SHS junior Jaiden Roberts was 3-for-4 with four runs scored, Sydney Cleland was 2-for-5 with a double, one run scored and four RBIs, Shelbi Dailey was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs, while Katie Barton was 2-for-5 with one run scored.
Josie Cundiff went 1-for-3 with three runs scored and one RBI for the guests, while Lauren Lavender and Sierra Cleland both singled once and scored once, with Cleland driving in one run. Haley Musser contributed a run scored and an RBI to the SHS cause, while Boyer scored one run.
The Lady Tornadoes committed seven errors in the setback, while Eastern had three defensive miscues. EHS left eight runners on base, while Southern stranded seven.
Eastern also defeated the Purple and Gold on April 8, by just a 4-3 count at Star Mill Park.
After a trip to Belpre on Thursday, EHS will wrap up its league campaign on Friday at Waterford.
SHS will be back at home next, as Trimble visits Racine on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.