Wildcats split: Waterford softball drops 1-0 decision to Eastern

WATERFORD – The only run of Wednesday evening’s softball game between Eastern and Waterford came in the top of the eighth inning without the benefit of a hit.

Eastern’s Grace Edwards reached first base on an error and ended up scoring on another error before retiring Waterford in order in the bottom of the eighth to give the Lady Eagles the 1-0 victory.

Edwards and Waterford’s Laura Hill were locked into a classic pitcher’s duel. Both hurlers went the distance, with Edwards recording 11 strikeouts and allowing just two hits to the Wildcats to earn the shutout win. She did not walk a batter.

“Great pitcher’s duel,” said Eastern head coach Bryan Durst.

“(Edwards) performs well in every game. She’s a hard worker in every practice. She’s a leader on our team. She goes out and gives it her all every single game.”

Hill was equally impressive, surrendering just four hits while striking out three and walking one. Her only run given up was unearned.

“She pitched a nice game,” said Waterford head coach Doug Baldwin.

“You hate to lose a game on one unearned run in the seventh.”

After seven scoreless frames to start the game, the two teams went into extra innings.

Leading off the top of the eighth, Edwards reached first base safely on a groundball to short that was bobbled. She then stole second base and advanced to third base on a passed ball on consecutive pitches. Edwards remained at third base as Hill struck out Eastern cleanup hitter Erin Swatzel, but came home to score with Jess Coleman up to bat on a wild pickoff throw by the catcher. It was one of five errors on the night by the Lady Wildcats, who fell to 1-1 on the season.

“Eastern’s a good ballclub,” Baldwin said of the now 6-0 Lady Eagles. “I know they went deep into the tournament last year. That’s what I told the kids. ‘You just proved you can play with them.'”

Eastern threatened early in the game, putting a pair of runners on base in both the first and second innings. Each time, though, Hill was able to work out of it unscathed.

Waterford’s first base-runner came with one out in the bottom of the second when Cierra Heiss blooped a single to shallow centerfield. However, the ‘Cats were unable to bring her around for a run.

The two teams continued trading zeros on the scoreboard.

Waterford’s second and final base knock of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, Chelsey Streight doubled to left field for the only extra-base hit in the contest. It would not matter as Edwards retired the next batter to strand Streight at second.

Eastern had something cooking in the ensuing inning with runners at first and second with nobody out, but Hill got the next three batters to fly out to right, pop out to second and pop out to first to escape the jam.

The bats remained quiet for both teams the remainder of the game, including the final inning when Eastern manufactured a run without getting a hit in the process. “It was just one of those games where we came out and we played our best,” Durst said. “Waterford brought their best game.

“We were just fortunate enough to win tonight.”

Eastern and Waterford are scheduled to meet again April 30 in Reedsville. The Lady Wildcats are back in action Friday at Miller.