The Lady Spartans sent the Cumberland softball standings into a whirlwind Thursday with a 4-0 win over Rye Cove at Carl McConnell Stadium.
A Rye Cove win Thursday would have given the Lady Eagles the regular-season district championship and the district’s automatic bid to the Region 1D tournament later this month.
Eastside (12-5, 7-2), however, had other ideas.
The Lady Spartans kept Eastside’s hopes of a regular-season co-championship alive with a win over Rye Cove (12-8, 8-2).
Eastside will finish a suspended game with J.I. Burton on Saturday. The game was halted by rain in the fourth inning with Eastside ahead 2-1. If the Lady Spartans hang on to win, they will tie Rye Cove for the Cumberland championship and will play the Lady Eagles again. This time in a playoff — likely on Monday — to determine the district’s automatic bid to the regional tournament.
Winning the regular-season district title would also keep the championship streak alive for the Lady Spartans. Eastside has won six straight Cumberland regular-season championships and five out of six district tournament titles since the school opened in the fall of 2011.
“We are not ready to surrender,” Eastside coach Suzi Atwood said of the Cumberland District race.
Before Eastside focuses on winning the Cumberland title, however, Atwood said, the first order of business is Saturday.
“We have to beat Norton on Saturday in order to force a playoff. We have to beat Norton. That’s the first thing on our agenda, and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We have to win on Saturday.”
Atwood said her team is coming along and is playing well when it stays focused and keeps in mind it’s a team sport.
“As a team, we can do good things and we do well when we play as a team. Singly, we pretty much suck. But, as a team we’re pretty daggone good. They have to stick together. They can’t do some of the things they’ve been doing where they just fall to the side and just think me, me, me. It’s about us,” she said.
Eastside scored one run in the first, one more in the third and two more in the fourth, while Lady Spartans freshman Liz Brace struck out seven on the way to the shutout win.
Nothing seemed to go right for Rye Cove in the loss.
“We just didn’t hit well today. Made (Brace) look spectacular by swinging at a lot of junk all day and letting the good ones go by,” said Rye Cove coach Brittney Salyer. “We let them start off with a runner at second about three or four innings’ worth. We just couldn’t connect at the plate or in the field today. At least we know that we still have a lot to work on.”