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Eastern girls shut down Western in 5-0 softball win 

Reigning state champs triumph in intra-county rivalry

Special to The Alamance News

The girls from Eastern Alamance Eagles shut down the Western Alamance Warriors Tuesday night for a 5-0 win to improve to 10-1 on the season in softball.

Eagles coach Danny Way said the team executed well in most aspects of the game.  “We knew it was going to be a close game, and we did what we were supposed to do,” Way said.

Eastern Alamance pitcher Kenna Raye Dark allowed just two hits and struck out 14 batters.  She struck out three consecutive batters in the bottom of the seventh inning to seal a shutout victory.

“Kenna [Raye Dark] had a great performance tonight [Tuesday, April 20]; her pitches were really on, and her ball was moving good.”

– Eastern softball coach Danny Way

Dark’s poise and control on the mound impressed Way, who said she had all her pitches working well. “Kenna had a great performance tonight; her pitches were really on, and her ball was moving good,” Way said.

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After a scoreless first three innings, the Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth when senior Reagan Hartley drove home two runs on a bunt single.

“We capitalized with our bunting and used our speed to break the game open.”

– Eastern softball coach Danny Way

Way liked the way his team ran the bases and cited their speed as a crucial reason for the victory.

“We capitalized with our bunting and used our speed to break the game open,” Way said.

With two runners on base in the fifth inning, Western Alamance had an opportunity to claw back in the game, but Dark struck out pitcher Taylor Apple to halt their momentum.

Western Alamance sophomore Taylor Apple releases a pitch. She tossed nine strikeouts on the night.

Sophomore Molly Lawson extended the Eagles’ lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning with a triple to right field that scored two runs.

“I was really trying to keep it simple. I tend to overthink at the plate, but it really works out when I don’t.”

– Eastern sophomore Molly Lawson

Lawson, who went two-for-four on the night, attributed her success to staying calm in the batter’s box.

“I was really trying to keep it simple,” Lawson said. “I tend to overthink at the plate, but it really works out when I don’t.”

Lawson said Dark’s pitching performance inspired and energized the team to break through at the plate.

“It gave us a lot of energy in the dugout,” Lawson said. “We knew we had to get it done at the plate because she was getting it done on the mound.”

Western Alamance sophomore Payton Rainey awaits the ball at third base.

The Eagles beat the Warriors 3-2 in another low scoring affair on March 26. Lawson said the team adjusted to the strong rising pitches of Western’s pitcher Apple following that game. She said the team learned that it is best to lay off, or not swing at, her rising fastball, a type of pitch that comes in on an upward trajectory with backspin.

“I think we really started to figure out their pitcher tonight, we worked to really lay off the rise,” Lawson said.

Western Alamance senior Logan Bailey steps into the batter’s box for an at-bat.

The Eagles were coming off their first loss of the season against Person last Friday. Way said the team did not dwell on the defeat, and he said he was proud of how the team responded in this critical rivalry game.

“It was a long bus ride back, but we didn’t say a whole lot about it,” Way said. “We just went back to work.”

Western Alamance junior Kenzie Taylor stands at first base after being walked.

Western Alamance fell to 9-2 with the loss. Apple tossed nine strikeouts, but two fielding errors by the team proved costly. The Warriors will be back in action on Friday when they host Morehead.

The reigning 3A state champion Eagles will travel to Wentworth for a game against Rockingham County on Friday.

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