COVINGTON - Eastside's softball team is heading to Columbus to play in the Class AAA state tournament after beating GACA Class AAA No. 6 ranked Ridgeland Lady Panthers in a pair of 1-0 games Monday.
Helping make the trip become a reality was Amanda Henderson. Not only did she get the wins in the circle with a combined 31 strikeouts in the two games, she also got the two RBIs.
"My hitting started out slow at the beginning of the year but I've been working on it. I guess it's been coming around and for me to have the RBIs for both runs feels really good," Henderson said. "I like being able to get it done on the mound and at the plate."
Bianca Reed scored in the bottom of the sixth inning in the first game on a bunt while Kenya Shako scored in the top of the first inning in the second game.
"It was pretty much exactly as I figured," Eastside coach Jason Stokes said. "They kept their composure and I'm very, very proud of them."
While the Lady Eagles did not knock Lady Panthers pitcher Jessie Forrester around, Erin Steele and Reed paced the Lady Eagles with two hits each followed by Shakoor, Henderson and Amanda Hawkins with one hit.
After winning the first game 1-0, Ridgeland fought hard to win the second game.
With a runner on third base and two outs, Ridgeland's Haley Lawson fouled off several of Henderson's pitches before finally striking out to end the third inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Panthers' Kara Goins almost tied the game, but Henderson was able to get her out at the plate on a squeeze bunt.
"We made a big play at home plate on that squeeze," Stokes said. "At this time of the year when it gets cold the batters don't want to hit. But that team swung the bat. Any one swing could have been a home run. You could see it; their top five swung the bat hard. You feel good but any one pitch and you can see the ball go in the trees out there."
Henderson gave up two hits, both in the second game, along with a walk and a hit batsman to go with her 31 strikeouts.
"It was so much better than I could have imagined," Henderson said. "I knew it was going to be tough. I heard how good their hitters were."
The Lady Eagles start the state tournament against Northside, Columbus at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.