COVINGTON - A slight chink in Eastside's defense meant the difference between winning and losing for the Class AAA No. 4-ranked Lady Eagles as they dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 1-ranked Oconee County on Thursday.
In the top of the first inning, the Lady Warriors had runners in scoring position when the Eastside second baseman rushed her throw to first base after bobbling what should have been a routine grounder.
As a result of the throwing error, Megan McClain and Kristen Rodrigues were able to score to give the Lady Warriors a 2-0 lead.
"I felt like we were very nervous and tense that first inning. That's something we have to improve on. We can't be intimidated by other teams. I felt like we were a little bit that first inning or two," Eastside coach Heather Wood said.
Oconee County had a chance to increase their lead as they loaded the bases with two outs before Lady Eagles shortstop Kayla Jones snagged a line drive out of the air for the final out.
The Lady Warriors also had chances to put more runs on the board in the sixth inning but again Jones was able to stretch for the line drive to end the inning.
"I was happy with Kayla, I thought she did a great job on defense," Wood said. "She definitely came through for us."
Jessica Davenport kept Oconee County from threatening in the seventh inning with a double play from right field.
After catching Sarah Vaughn's pop fly, Davenport was able to throw Cassidy Dampier out at first for the double play.
"That was a great play. I'm glad she was alert and knew she had time to get the runner out," Wood said. "She's been impressing me at practice with her defense. She's got a great arm and has been making good plays for us."
While Eastside's defense was able to rise to the occasion after the error which cost them the two runs, offensively they were unable to meet the challenge.
The Lady Eagles had two hits against Oconee County's Geri Ann Glaco, whose father, Gerry, is an assistant softball coach for the University of Georgia.
"It's been a problem on and off throughout the season - our offense.
"That pitcher was very hitable and we should have done a much better job hitting her, we didn't," Wood said. "We weren't being patient, we weren't working the count, I don't know if it was our nervous but overall we weren't very smart at the plate."
Collecting base hits for the Lady Eagles were Bri Chambers and Kenya Shakoor.
In the circle for Eastside, Amanda Henderson fanned nine batters while walking three, hitting one and giving up six hits.
"Once she calmed down she threw a great game for us. But our bats didn't come through," Wood said.
As a result of the loss, the Lady Eagles can finish no better than second in the subregion.
"It's not really going to matter, but in the region tournament we'll probably be the second place seed instead of first," Wood said. "We're still OK, we just have to come out ready for the region tournament."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org