EAGLES 2 COUGARS 0 (8 Inn.)
CLEARWATER – Kendyl Crean’s shot to left field needed a little more to clear the fence Tuesday night but it was exactly what East Lake needed to get the job done.
The junior’s deep double to left in the top of the eighth plated the lone runs of a win over Class 8A District 7 rival Countryside.
Home run or not, Crean was more than happy with the outcome.
“I did [think it was gone],” she said. “I get that feeling a lot but most of them just hit the fence.”
The biggest hit during a night dominated by pitchers Tori Brennan of East Lake and Jordan Lewis of Countryside came after the Cougars threatened to walk off with a sixth straight win over their rivals by putting a runner at second with one out in the seventh.
Countryside’s best chance to score came in the third. With Alice Gannaway and Tiana Thomas standing on second and third, respectively, Abagail Siegel appeared to bring a run win with a tapper back to the circle. But right as the ball kicked away from Brennan’s grasp, Tuesday’s umpire crew ruled the ball deflected off Siegel’s foot and brought her back to the plate. Brennan then got an inning-ending pop up to first base.
That was the only time any baserunner reached third until the East Lake eighth. Lewis was so good, in fact, that she carried a no-hitter into the seventh before McKenna Graham broke it up with a base hit. All five of East Lake’s previous baserunners reached via error or being hit by a pitch.
Brennan was equally good from the circle, surrendering Countryside’s three hits over the first three frames. The freshman received plenty of help from her defense, as well – notably from Caroline Jacquay. The sophomore right fielder took away two Cougars hits by throwing runners out at first and second and recorded four put outs.
“She’s got a gun and she’s only a sophomore,” East Lake coach Kristie Delk said of Jacquay. “The defense was making plays to get us out of innings.”
Tuesday’s win now puts East Lake in a tie atop the District 8A-7 standings with Countryside. Both teams are now 5-1 in league play with two district games remaining. “It was a really big game for us with them being undefeated in district before,” Crean said.
The Cougars earned a 7-2 victory at East Lake in the first meeting and will own the tiebreaker if it’s decided by head-to-head run differential, 7-4.
“I think we are getting better,” Cougars coach Kaylyn Bayly said. “We have some kids that haven’t played a whole lot but they’re working hard and they’re trying to do what they need to do for us to stay where we are or even get a little better.”
The teams get back into district play against Thursday night. East Lake will host Pinellas Park and Countryside will welcome St. Petersburg to its new on-campus field.
EL – 000 000 02 --- 2-3-1
CS – 000 000 00 --- 0-3-4
WP – Tori Brennan
LP – Jordan Lewis
East Lake (14-2, 5-1)
Kendyl Crean – 1-for-4, 2 RBI, 2B
Tori Brennan – CG Win, 8.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 K, 1 BB
Caroline Jacquay – Defensive RF: 2 Assists, 4 Put Outs
Countryside (11-6, 5-1)
Jordan Lewis – CG Loss, 8.0 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 HBP
Alice Gannaway – 2-for-4
Tiana Thomas – 1-for-3