WELLSTON, Ohio — In a battle of two of Southeastern Ohio’s top softball programs on Thursday, the Eastern Lady Eagles one-upped the Wellston Golden Rockets.
That’s because Eastern scored the go-ahead — and eventual game-winning — run in the top of the seventh inning, en route to earning a 4-3 non-league victory at Nancy Kibler Field in Wellston.
After Eastern led 2-0 and 3-2, the Golden Rockets rallied for 2-2 and 3-3 ties, but then the Eagles got the game’s final run in the seventh.
Kelsey Casto singled to lead off, stole second, and then scored all the way from there on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Emmalea Durst.
The Golden Rockets chased Durst back to first on the play, allowing Casto to come all the way around.
Eastern ace pitcher Jess Coleman then finished what she started — her “best pitched game” according to Eastern head coach Bryan Durst.
Coleman allowed a pair of singles in the seventh, but got out of the jam to preserve the 4-3 win.
Eastern — in the process of winning its third consecutive contest — raised its record to 12-4, while Wellston fell to 11-3 and saw its three-game win streak snapped.
Both schools are members of the Tri-Valley Conference, but reside in opposite divisions.
The Lady Eagles are the leaders in the TVC-Hocking, while Wellston is always one of the top teams in the TVC-Ohio.
Coleman, in tossing the complete game for the win, allowed eight hits and two walks while striking out six.
She retired the side 1-2-3 in the fourth with two strikeouts, while also seeing the minimum three in the second.
Wellston senior Katelyn Stewart also went the distance in the pitcher’s circle, scattering seven hits and four walks with nine strikeouts.
She retired the Eagles 1-2-3 in the second and third, part of eight in a row at one point.
But Stewart struggled in the Eagles’ opening at-bat, allowing leadoff walks to Hannah Bailey and Sidney Cook before Coleman helped herself with a two-run single.
Wellston would tie the game at 2-2 in the third, when Kaylee Taynor, Amber Kisor and Brittany Downard all singled — and Ashley Compston was hit by a pitch.
Molly Smith singled in Kisor for the tying run.
Both clubs had scoring opportunities in the next two innings, as Coleman and Taylynn Rockhold had singles for Eastern in the fourth — and Courtney Fitzgerald walked in the fifth.
In Wellston’s fifth, the Rockets reached the corners with a walk and a Kisor single, but back-to-back fielder’s choices ended the frame.
The two teams then exchanged runs in the sixth, setting up the deciding seventh.
Katlyn Barber and Coleman both bunt-singled to lead off for Eastern, as Abbie Hawley singled home Barber for the 3-2 lead.
In the bottom half, though, Stewart led off with a solo home run for the 3-3 tie.
The Rockets, however, left runners at first and second in the final two innings — after leaving the bases loaded in the third.
Eastern hosted another TVC-Ohio squad — Vinton County — on Friday (April 22), and hosts Wahama in a TVC-Hocking tilt on Monday (April 25).
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106