BIG STONE GAP — Just a few days ago, Tinley Hamilton came in as a relief pitcher. Eastside head coach Suzi Atwood rolled the dice and decided to give the start to the freshman. The gamble paid off as Hamilton pitched a four hit shutout and led the Lady Spartans to victory over the Lady Bears 7-0.
“She did great. She was a little nervous the last time we put her on the mound. But, we told her we were starting her and she was ok with it. She has really grown up a lot in about a week,” Atwood said.
Hamilton also got things started on offense for the Lady Spartans.
The first two innings were a battle between Hamilton and Lady Bears pitcher Zoe Brooks as the Lady Spartans could only muster two hits and Union went three up, three down in both innings.
The Eastside offense got started in the third as Brooks walked Kacie Jones and Carrie Boyd to bring up Hamilton in the order. Hamilton belted a double scoring Jones to get the Lady Spartans on the board.
The Lady Bears were able to threaten in the fourth as Heather Lipps hit a single and stole second. Marleigh Duncan walked and stole second as Lipps stole third on a wild pitch on ball four. Union had runners on second and third with no outs.
Union’s Brooke Light hit a sacrifice fly to right field that looked deep enough to score Lipps, but Eastside’s Taylor Perry rocketed the throw to the plate for a double play.
The fifth inning was huge for the Lady Spartans as they had five hits and scored three runs putting their lead up to 4-0.
In the sixth, Perry would double to the outfield. Two batters later, Carrie Boyd would send one over the fence for a two run homer.
Lessi Sensabaugh’s seventh inning solo home run was the icing on the cake for this young Eastside team.
“Lessi (Sensabaugh) had been nervous the whole day. And so we were really pleased to see this happen for her. She and Carrie (Boyd) have been working hard. That makes you feel good when something like that happens,” Atwood said.
Union first year coach Makenzie Cluesman was optimistic in the Lady Bears’ season openers.
“I feel like we were nervous coming out here for our first game. We didn’t hit the ball. These things will come. I’m proud of this team. We’ve just got to make adjustments,” Cluesman said.
Brooks went 2-for-3 behind the plate and threw 11 strikeouts to lead the Lady Bears. Lipps also went 2-for-3 with three stolen bases.
“Zoe (Brooks) came out and she pitched a great game. She handled herself very well. She came back and got the outs and I’m proud of her,” said Cluesman.
Hamilton ended up with eight strikeouts and went 2-for-4 with a single, double and RBI.