EATON — Eaton softball coach Maggie Neanen knew the importance of the games her team played last week as far as the race for a league title was concerned.
Eaton faced three of the top teams in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern Division.
The Eagles entered the week unbeaten in four games, but suffered its first two losses of the season as they fell to Brookville (2-0) and Monroe (5-0) in road games, but beat Franklin (13-3) and Bellbrook (3-0) to remain in the hunt for a league title.
Monroe sits atop the standings at 6-1 in the league and overall. Brookville is 3-1 in the SWBL and 5-1 overall. Brookville and Monroe split their season series. Eaton fell to 5-2 in the SWBL and 6-2 overall after last week’s games.
The Eagles, though, still have both teams remaining on their schedule.
Eaton began the week with a win at Franklin.
After grabbing a 1-0 lead in the second, Eaton fell behind 3-1 after three innings courtesy a three-run homer in the bottom of the third inning.
“As a team we came out with some fire and edge I think,” Neanen said. “When Franklin hit their home run and took the lead in the bottom of the third I was a little concerned. But we had timed up their pitcher well and knew we would get the job done at the plate.”
Indeed they did.
Junior Becca Mowen started the fourth with a triple.
“I knew we would be fine,” Neanen said of the hit which seamed to get the team going as Eaton batted around in the inning and scored seven times.
The Eagles were up 4-3 and had the bases loaded when junior Annika Gels unloaded on a pitch and drove the ball well over the left-center field fence for a grand slam.
“She took a ball and just absolutely crushed it, hitting her first career grand slam,” Neanen said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team. Anyone who came in off the bench got the job done. We just need to keep this up, it’s a long season.”
Gels finished the game 2-for-4 and added a double. Freshman Lexi Miller added two hits, while senior Bailee Worley added two hits and drove in two runs.
Eaton added two more runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to take a 13-3 lead. The Eagles worked their way out of jam in the bottom of the sixth. The Wildcats had the bases loaded with no outs, but a strike out and double play ended the game.
The next night, Eaton’s bats fell silent as they were shutout. Brookville managed two runs in the fourth inning for the only runs of the game. Eaton had a couple of chances to score but left runners stranded.
Logan Unger had two hits, including a triple and Gels and Worley each added a hit.
On Thursday, Eaton took advantage of a Bellbrook miscue to score three run and claim the win.
With two runners on, in the third, sophomore Bailey Shepherd singled to center and the ball eventually got by the center fielder allowing both base runners and Sheperd to score.
Gels limited Bellbrook to just four hits and struck out seven to get the win.
“We came out with energy and made solid contact almost every at bat but just couldn’t find a hole,” Neanen said.
On Friday, Eaton’s bats were quiet again as the Hornets jumped to an early lead and held on for the win.
Mowen and Worley each had two hits.
Eaton was scheduled to play Monroe again on Monday, April 16, but the game was postponed. They are scheduled to play at Valley View on Wednesday, host Brookville on Thursday and close out the week by hosting Valley View on Friday.