Heading into Wednesday night’s contest against Southern Wells, Eastbrook Head Coach Harold Coates wondered how his team would respond after a double-digit loss to Jay County the evening before.
Safe to say, the Panthers bounced back in a big way, scoring early and often in 12-1, mercy rule victory over the Raiders.
Eastbrook came away with eight hits in the contest, while also capitalizing on eight Southern Wells errors. From the first at-bat, the Panthers showed confidence at the plate, and it led to a plethora of success.
“Kayleigh Gross comes up in the very first at-bat and doesn’t get on base but hits it hard. I think that just started it [for us,]” Eastbrook Head Coach Harold Coates said. “We’ve been talking about putting the ball in play and making them field it [because] they are either going to or [we are] going to get on base.”
Southern Wells scored its first and only run of the contest in the opening frame, taking advantage of a pair of Eastbrook errors, but the Panthers came roaring back, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Logan Jones started the rally by reaching on a Southern Wells error, before Chloe Poe ripped a shot to left-center field, her fourth home run of the season, to put the Panthers.
Poe not only leads the Panthers in home runs, but she also leads all Grant County softball teams in that category.
“Chloe has done a fantastic job hitting the ball,” Coates said. “She hits it hard, and she gets a lot of innings started. She works hard, and she always has. She’s an athletic kid, and she doesn’t get cheated when she swings.”
After Ava Walters scored on a wild pitch and Addison Coates came home on another Raider error to cap off the first inning, the Panthers scored three more runs in the second frame to increase their advantage to 7-1. Gross reached third on an error and later scored on a wild pitch, before Walters and Coates hit back-to-back RBI singles.
Gross hit a two-run single in the third to increase Eastbrook’s lead to 9-1, before a two-run triple from Abigial Cansler in the fourth put the final nail in the coffin.
After the first inning, Eastbrook’s defense was sensational. The Panthers did not allow another batter to reach base safely, and several players made incredible defensive plays, including Cansler, who made an over-the-shoulder grab in right field to take away an extra-base hit in the fourth.
“We talk about being ready on every pitch. We made a couple of errors there early on, but once again, they rebounded and came back and finished strong,” Coates said.
Along with their batting, the Panthers received a pair of tremendous pitching performances in the circle. Allyson Mullenix gave up just one hit, which came in the first inning, and pitched four straight 1-2-3 frames, striking out three.
Brooklyn Stupples pitched a scoreless fifth, striking out the side to secure Eastbrook’s victory.
“Mullenix pitched a great game, and then Brooklyn comes in and keeps them off balance,” Coates said. “I’m very excited for those two.”
Most importantly, Coates, and the Panthers, are just happy to be back out on the softball diamond.
“It’s good to be back,” Coates said. “It’s good to be around the kids and the other coaches and just getting the chance to play. Getting the chance to come back and play is special, and we still aren’t taking it for granted.”