TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Already, the Lady Eagles are off to a flying start in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division championship chase.
That’s because host Eastern — in its softball season opener on Tuesday — made short work of the visiting Southern Tornadoes, winning 11-1 in only five innings.
The contest was called following the 10-run mercy rule — as Eastern scored once in the first, three times in the second, four times in the fourth and finally three in the fifth.
The Lady Tornadoes scored a single run in the fifth inning, despite churning out seven total hits with only two strikeouts.
Southern fell to 0-2 with the loss, as Eastern and Southern have been the top two squads in the TVC-Hocking the past two seasons, with Eastern as the champion.
In fact, Southern has been the only league team to topple the Eagles over the same time span — two years ago.
Eastern junior pitcher Jessica Coleman captured the complete-game win, walking only one and not allowing an extra-base hit.
She retired the Tornadoes 1-2-3 in the opening inning, before escaping a bases-loaded jam situation in the second — by inducing Sierra Cleland to hit into an unassisted double-play by Eastern third baseman Emmalea Durst.
The Tornadoes had a runner at third in the third, and runners at second and third in the fourth, but again Coleman kept them off the board until the fifth.
Meanwhile, Eastern amassed an 8-0 lead at that point, as Sidney Cook’s two-run double in the fifth put the mercy-rule into effect.
The Eagles amounted 13 hits, as Cook collected three with two of those being doubles and three runs batted in.
Katlyn Barber belted two hits and three RBI, including a two-run double in the fourth — and an RBI-double in the first that scored Hannah Bailey, who singled to lead off.
Coleman helped her cause with three hits, as her catcher Mollie Maxon had two hits including a double.
Abbie Hawley had a single and scored three runs, while Mackenzie Brooks singled in the fifth and plated two RBIs.
Bailey and Brooks, the Eagle leadoff hitters, scored two runs apiece.
Sydney Cleland, the Southern pitcher, also went the distance — walking and striking out two.
Paige VanMeter went 2-for-2 for the Tornadoes, and also drew the only walk, while singling in Ali Deem for the team’s only run.
Deem herself singled with one out, as VanMeter’s other hit came in the fourth.
In the second inning, VanMeter walked and Brandy Porter and Savannah Bailey both singled.
Haley Hill singled in the third, while Hannah Hill singled in the fourth.
Eastern made up its TVC-Hocking game at Miller on Wednesday, and travels to South Gallia today (Thursday, March 31) for another league bout.
Southern travels to Trimble today for another TVC-Hocking tilt.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106