EAST JACKSON softball coach Jason Rainey had previously declared his team’s Sept. 15 10-2 victory over Oglethorpe County as its superlative effort of the year.
But he had to amend that statement Thursday.
The Eagles (6-13-1, 4-7) won a much bigger one, beating rival Jefferson 4-1 at home.
“This is our best showing by far — defense, pitching, hitting,” Rainey said.
It just goes to prove that this team is improving, he said.
“We’re so young,” Rainey said. “That’s the thing about it. Everything we do is new to us. Each step is new. This (win) is new to them right here.”
East Jackson fell five days later to Jackson County, 2-0, and finishes its schedule Thursday at Hart County.
In the big win over Jefferson, senior Rebecca Turner went 2-for-3 at the plate with a homer and also pitched two innings of scoreless relief as East Jackson won for the second time in three games.
East Jackson starting pitcher Taylor Nix threw five innings, allowing five hits and an earned run while striking out two in picking up the win.
“We just wanted to go with our best combination,” Rainey said of throwing both pitchers. “That’s the thing that we’re trying to do. We didn’t want to give them too many looks. (Rebecca is) our senior, so we figured our best shot to win was to get her on the mound and finish the game. She’s the most experienced player we’ve got, and it paid off.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, East Jackson got on the board with Turner’s solo blast. Turner’s sister, Emily, then put the Eagles ahead 3-1 in the fourth inning with a two-run double. Emily Turner finished 1-for-3 on the day. East Jackson added another run in the fourth off an error.
Others with big offensive days for the Eagles were Arynn Baker (2-for-3, double, one run) and Kelsey Palette (1-for-3).
“The Jefferson pitcher (Morgan McKinney) is one of the best pitchers in the league,” Rainey said. “She just got back from injury but she still throws it, and we were ready … We talked about our approach (at the plate), getting good swings, getting good at-bats. That’s what we did and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
Lindsey Miles went 2-for-3 from the plate to lead Jefferson (10-17, 7-3) offensively. Jordyn Whitfield drove in the Dragons’ lone run, bringing home Miles in the first inning when she grounded out to short.
McKinney threw four innings for Jefferson, surrendering six hits and four runs (two earned). She struck out eight batters. Savannah Snapp added two perfect innings of relief, striking out two.