EAST JACKSON won just seven games last year but is quickly nearing that total early this season under new coach Brent Howell.
The Eagles moved to 5-2-1 with a 19-8 rout of Cedar Shoals Tuesday in four innings.
East Jackson scored 12 runs in the first inning and then emptied its bench.
“We played some people that didn’t get to play in the (Threads) tournament,” Howell said.
Leading hitters were Beth Doss (3-for-3, four RBIs) and Ashlie Wuertley (3-for-3, four RBIs).
Jayden Bennett and Kelsey Palette both pitched in the shortened game. Bennett gave up two runs, seven hits and two earned runs (eight overall) and two walks, while Palette threw two shutout innings, allowing one hit.
A day earlier, East Jackson pounded out 17 hits Monday to beat Johnson 11-2 on the road.
Ashlie Wuertley (2-for-2, two runs, double, triple, RBI walk), Lauren Sanders (2-for-3, two runs, RBI), Taylor Nix (2-for-2, double, two runs) and Emily Turner (2-for-2, one run, double, two RBIs) all enjoyed multi-hit games as the Eagles won in five innings.
Also chipping in offensively were Kristin Whitlock (1-for-2, triple, run, RBI), Brittany Nolan (1-for-2), Beth Doss (1-for-2, RBI), Destiny McHann (1-for-3, RBI), Emily Hollis (hit, run), Sam Minish (1-for-2, two RBIs), Alx Wheeler (1-for-2, run), Shelby Shipp (hit) and Jayden Bennett (hit).
Nix started in the pitcher’s circle, working two shutout innings. She surrendered one hit and no walks while striking out two.
Bennett threw the final three innings, surrendering two hits, two runs (neither was earned) and three walks while striking out two.
East Jackson finishes third at Threads tourney
East Jackson went 1-2-1 during its weekend trip to the Threads Tournament in Stephens County, finishing third.
The Eagles topped Banks County, tied Ridgeland and lost to Elbert County and Stephens County.
Though East Jackson does have three seniors and several juniors on the roster, the four-game stint still provided the team with some valuable experience, according to coach Brent Howell.
“Experience wise, I think we’re young and still learning,” Howell said. “That’s what this tournament allowed us to do.”
East Jackson opened with a team with which Howell is quite familiar — Banks County. Howell came to East Jackson from Banks County, having served as an assistant softball coach there. The Eagles blanked the Leopards 5-0 Friday behind a five-hit shutout from Taylor Nix.
Leading hitters were Kesley Palette (2-for-3, run, stolen base), Lauren Sanders (2-for-3, run), Kristin Whitlock (one hit, run, walk), Brittany Nolan (1-for-2, walk), Beth Doss (1-for-2, run, walk), Emily Turner (1-for-2, run) and Taylor Nix (1-for-2, run).
Nix pitched a gem, throwing six innings, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out three.
“She threw extremely well — one of the best games she’s had all year,” Howell said.
Wanting to give Howell a win over his former school, the Eagle players “kind of stepped their game up,” Howell said.
The coach called facing his old team “bittersweet."
“I coached there for seven years … It’s exciting. It was good to see them.”
Following the win over Banks County, East Jackson tied eventual tournament winner Ridgeland 2-2 Saturday morning in a game that was called after two innings.
Offensive leaders in the abbreviated contest included Whitlock (walk, run), Wuertley (1-for-1, single, RBI), Turner (walk) and Emily Hollis (run).
East Jackson then lost 4-0 to Elbert County later in the day.
Howell gave the starting nod to freshman pitcher Jayden Bennett, who threw five innings and surrendered five hits, four runs (two earned) and four walks while striking out three.
“She kept us in the ball game,” Howell said. “She pitched ahead in the count.”
Palette relieved Bennett and worked a perfect sixth inning.
Offensive leaders were Nolan (2-for-3), Ashlie Wuertley (1-for-3), Sanders (1-for-2) and Nix (1-for-2).
“We had opportunities,” Howell said. “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
East Jackson closed the tournament by losing what Howell described as a “heartbreaker” to Stephens County, 3-1.
The Eagles scored their only run in the first inning when Palette singled, stole second, was moved over to third and came home on a passed ball.
East Jackson led 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, but a combination of errors led to three unearned Stephens County runs.
Nix threw six innings, allowing seven hits, no earned runs and two walks while striking out three.
“She pitched her heart out,” Howell said.
Prior to the Threads tournament, East Jackson beat West Hall 8-3 on the road.
Whitlock (two walks, run, RBI), Palette (two RBIs, three walks), Nolan (hit, walk), Wuertley (double, three RBIs), Doss (hit, two walks), Sanders (four walks, two runs), Turner (hit, two runs) and Nix (one hit, one run, RBI) all sparked East Jackson offensively.
The Eagles scored three runs in second, one in fourth, four in fifth. Wuertley delivered a base-clearing double in the fifth that broke the game open.
Nix started and threw five innings. She allowed three hits and two earned runs and four walks while striking out six.
Bennett came on and threw two innings, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out four.