TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Talk about starting the game with a bang.
In the opening inning of Monday night’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division softball tilt at Don Jackson Field, the host Lady Eagles took a 7-0 lead — thanks in large part to a pair of three-run home runs — and never looked back on their way to a 12-2 mercy-rule win over Waterford.
Eastern (4-0, 4-0) — now to 3-0 at home, where the Lady Eagles as outscoring opponents 45-7 —retired the Lady Wildcats (2-2, 2-2) in order in the top of the first inning.
After back-to-back singles by Ally Barber and Emmalea Durst to lead off the bottom of the first, Sidney Cook hit a home run that bounced off of the top of and over the center field fence.
With one out in the first, Taylynn Rockhold and Cera Grueser went back-to-back with a double and a single respectively, leaving runners on the corners. Next, EHS sophomore Mollie Maxon gave the hosts a 6-0 lead with a three-run home run.
Eastern scored another run with two outs in the opening inning, when Ally Barber doubled home Hannah Bailey.
The Lady Eagles went ahead 8-0 in the bottom of the second, as Cook led off the inning with her second home run of the game.
The Lady Wildcats scored their first run of the game in the top of the third frame, and WHS held the Lady Eagles without a run in the bottom of the inning.
Waterford was retired in order in the top of the fourth and Eastern’s offense got back to work in the home half of the inning. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Grueser doubled home pinch runner Haley Burton, giving EHS a 9-1 lead.
After a free pass, Courtney Fitzgerald and Hannah Bailey hit back to back doubles, plating Grueser, Fitzgerald and Kelsey Casto.
Waterford scored once in the top of the fifth, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the 12-2, mercy-rule setback.
Elaina Hensley earned the pitching victory for the hosts, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and a walk. Hensley pitched a complete game and struck out two batters.
Smitley suffered the pitching loss for WHS, striking out three, walking two and hitting one batter, while allowing 12 runs and 13 hits.
Cook led the EHS offense, going 3-for-3 with two home runs, two runs scored, four runs batted in and one stolen base. Grueser was 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases, Fitzgerald was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored, while Ally Barber was 2-of-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.
Maxon was 1-for-2 with a home run, three runs batted in and one run scored, while Bailey and Rockhold both doubled once and scored once, with Bailey also tacking on an RBI. Durst singled once and scored once in the win, while Burton and Casto both crossed home plate once.
McCutcheon doubled once and scored once to lead the guests, while Neader singled once and drove in one run. Ohse and Dawson both singled for WHS, while Huffman marked an RBI and a run scored.
Both teams left four runners stranded in the game. Eastern committed three errors in the win, while WHS had one defensive mishap.
Eastern and Waterford are scheduled to meet again on April 28, at WHS.
After visiting Belpre on Tuesday, Eastern will return home on Thursday, to host South Gallia.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.