(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
"I was nervous going in and the slow start we got came back to haunt us," said Eakins, who watched his team drop a 12-7 decision to the Lady Falcons, ending Riverside's season.
CRA jumped on Riverside early, scoring four runs in the first inning with the big blow coming off the bat of Treka Freer, who laced a two-run double to highlight the Lady Falcon outburst.
Riverside went down one-two-three in their half of the first inning, and CRA came right back to put up another four spot in the top of the second inning, giving the Lady Falcons an 8-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Jordan Pillow began the second inning outburst with a double before Bethany Johnson drew a walk to put two runners on base. Riverside starter Kendra Staggs looked to be out of trouble by retiring the next two Lady Falcons, but CRA exploded, scoring four runs with two outs. A fielder's choice allowed Freer to reach first, loading the bases. Dustyn Stokes followed with a two-run single to make the score 6-0. Two straight Lady Rebel errors gave CRA two more runs before Riverside could get out of the inning.
The Lady Rebels fought back, scoring two runs in the third inning, but CRA answered with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth when Katie Howe and Freer added run scoring singles to give the Lady Falcons a 10-2 lead.
Riverside battled back in the bottom half of the sixth when Brianna Driver and Holly Dudley opened the inning with back to back singles. On out later, senior Kassie Douglas drilled a long homerun over the left field fence to pull the Lady Rebels to within 10-5, but that was as close as Riverside would get.
CRA scored two more runs in the top of the seventh to go up 12-5 before Riverside tried to muster one last rally in the bottom of the seventh. The Lady Rebel's only other senior, Kelsey Turner, reached first base on an error before Michelle Cobb hit a bloop double down the right field line. Driver followed with an RBI single, scoring Turner to cut the lead to 12-6. Dudley followed with a single to load the bases with no outs, giving Riverside hopes of a miracle comeback. Katey Campbell made the score 12-7 on an RBI groundout, but winning pitcher Bethany Johnson retired the next two batters to end the game, along with the Lady Rebel's season.
"My hat is off to CRA," said Eakins. "They came out ready to play. They were my dark horse team when the tournament started, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them win another game or two in the tournament," added Eakins, whose team finished with an 8-6 record.
Eakins praised his two lone seniors. "Kelsey Turner was probably a career .400 hitter and I have been waiting four years to see Kassie Douglas hit a homerun, which she finally did. They are both very good players and will be sorely missed," concluded Eakins.
Kendra Staggs pitched an inning and two thirds in taking the loss. Staggs surrendered eight runs, five earned, while giving up four hits. Sister Kaitlyn Staggs pitched the final five and one third innings, surrendering four runs while giving up eight hits.
Johnson went the distance for CRA, giving up seven hits while striking out six.