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East takes out West in key CCC softball game


West Davidson’s Diamond Suber singles against East Davidson during their game on Thursday in Tyro. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)


TYRO | With the way East Davidson’s softball team has been hitting the ball lately, pitching changes really aren’t that necessary.

Amanda Akins wasn’t going to take any chances, though, on Thursday evening in an important Central Carolina Conference tilt with West Davidson.

After watching her Eagles race to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning and then cringe when the Green Dragons threatened to make it all up in the bottom of the frame, Akins wasted no time in pulling starter Haley Ray for Brooke Walser.

“We’ve got to stay as close to the top of the (conference) as we can,” said Akins. “Hayley was a little bit off from what she has been and I felt we needed to bring in Brooke. It ended up working out for the best.”

Indeed.

Walser inherited a one out and two runners on situation with her team clinging to a 7-4 lead. But she pitched out of any further trouble and then allowed just one more run as East eventually cruised to a 15-5 win.

Leadoff hitter Natalie Naturile had a career game for the Eagles, going 6-for-6 with 3 RBIs. In all. East banged out 20 hits to improve to 3-1 in the CCC, 8-4 overall and stay one game back of Central Davidson, whom it lost to in a slugfest on Tuesday.

“We had to refocus in practice (Wednesday) and put that game in the past,” said Akins. “West looks to be much better than they have in the past and I’ve got to give coach (Nick) Slate credit. We just did not need to lose this game.”

Most of the action took place in that eventful first inning. Naturile’s single to center started a string of six straight hits to start the game off West pitcher Lauren Wilson, who took the loss. By the time Naturile came back around to bat in the inning, East led 5-0, and a sharp single to center by the shortstop plated two more, making it 7-0.

West responded right back in the bottom of the first against Ray as Bekah Hudson walked and Diamond Suber and Alicia Middleton followed with singles. Wilson delivered a two-RBI single moments later and the Dragons added two more runs before Akins inserted Walser.

From there West’s bats went virtually silent.

“(The pitching change) was a big difference in the game,” said Slate. “We’ve been coming around, swinging the bats much better the last couple of games, but we didn’t adjust tonight. And East swings the bats really good. They did a great job battling up there on several at-bats.”

East upped its lead to 9-4 in the fourth when Brooklyn Hopkins barely missed a two-run homer, instead settling for a two-run double that caromed off the top of the left-field fence. The visitors added an unearned run in the fifth and then pushed across five more in the seventh.

West added its final run in the fifth on Wilson’s RBI-single.

Slate, who is in his first year as head coach, saw his team dip to 3-1 in the CCC, 5-5 overall.

“We are really young this year, with only two seniors, a bunch of sophomores and two freshmen starting,” Slate said. “So realistically, we think we are about a year away. The biggest thing on what we’re trying to do here is not giving up, regardless of the score. We see where (East Davidson and Central Davidson) are and that’s where we want to be.”

Notes: Akins was thrilled with her team’s offensive output, especially Naturile. “That’s amazing. I am real proud of her,” said Akins. “She’s going to play at Catawba next year so she has been working hard.” Morgan Gallimore also had a big game for East with four hits and Bailey Jones added three hits and a pair of RBIs. Wilson finished with three hits for the Dragons and Middleton had two. East plays at Ledford April 5 while West doesn’t play again until April 9 at Central.