TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — One inning can ruin your entire night.
Eastern committed three errors and allowed non-league guest Alexander to score five runs with two outs in the third inning of Monday’s champion versus champion softball game in Meigs County, leading to a 7-6 victory the Lady Spartans.
After a scoreless first frame, Eastern (16-6) —the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division champion —went ahead 2-0 on a two-run Tessa Rockhold home run.
The Lady Spartans — the TVC Ohio champions, who’ve now won 10 straight games — in the top of the third inning were retired in order, but Erin Scurlock hit a solo home run to end the shut out.
AHS tied the game on a throwing error, and then took the lead after another throwing error. The third throwing error allowed one run to score and a runner to reach third. An RBI single by Amber Hart finished off the five-run inning for Alexander.
The Lady Eagles left a runner on second in the bottom of the third, and then went down in order in the fourth and fifth innings.
The Lady Spartans left a runner on third in the top of the fourth, and then increased their lead to 7-2 in the fifth, as Abby Howard hit a two-run home run. AHS only reached scoring position one more time in the game, and left the runner on second.
EHS broke the cold spell in the bottom of the sixth, as Sidney Cook scored on a two-out double by Emmalea Durst.
The Lady Eagles began to rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, moving within two runs on a two-run triple by Cook. Kelsey Roberts singled home Cook, and then courtesy runner Sydney Sanders stole second, but a groundout ended the game and gave Alexander the 7-6 victory.
This marks the second straight one-run setback for the Lady Eagles, who fell to Scioto Valley Conference champion Westfall — the No. 10 team in the Division III Coaches Poll — on Saturday.
“We played the game on Saturday and the game tonight as tournament games,” Lady Eagles head coach Bryan Durst said. “It just shows you that if you let down for one inning, it can all be over. Still, if we play with consistent energy and consistent focus, we could beat anyone.”
Tessa Rockhold took the pitching loss in a complete game for Eastern, striking out three batters, walking one, and giving up seven runs, three earned, on 11 hits.
Gracie Hill was the winning pitcher of record, striking out five batters, walking one, and allowing six earned runs on nine hits.
Leading Eastern’s offense, Roberts was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Cook was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, two runs and two RBIs, while Tessa Rockhold had a home run, a run scored and two RBIs.
Emmalea Durst doubled once and drove in a run, Kelsey Casto singled once and scored once, Courtney Fitzgerald added a single, while Sanders and Cera Grueser each scored once.
Hailie Miller led the Lady Spartans with a 3-for-3 day, which included a double and two runs. Jadyn Mace was 2-for-4 with a double, Howard hit a home run, scored twice and drove in three runs, while Erin Scurlock hit a home run, scored once and drove in one.
The Lady Eagles were responsible for all-5 of the game’s errors. Alexander left seven runners on base, two more than Eastern.
EHS will be back on its home field on Thursday, as the top-seeded Lady Eagles welcome eighth-seeded South Webster for the Division IV sectional final.
“When we we set up our schedule this year we tried to end load it more than we have in the past,” said Coach Durst. “With Westfall last Saturday, and with Alexander coming in here tonight, it’s getting us ready for tournament play.
“Tournament play is one game and you’re out, so we’re not going to take anything for granted. We’re going to come out and have fun, I’m really looking forward to this tournament. I think our kids are going to be in a good position, it’s been a nice season so far in preparation for the tournament.”
The Lady Jeeps defeated ninth-seeded South Gallia 10-2 in the sectional semifinal on Monday at SWHS.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.