EAST LAKE — All day East Lake’s nine seniors fought back the tears. For them, even the smallest things on Senior Night touched a wave of nostalgia: pulling on that white home jersey one last time, walking past the stadium, gazing at the flags fluttering in the sun.
At 6:30 p.m. Friday the nine seniors stood near the pitcher’s mound with their parents while their accomplishments were announced. Fans stood in their seats, waving signs and shedding a few tears of their own. As they were honored, some of the seniors wept like infants as they said goodbye on their final time together on their homefield.
Then they had to play a game.
That turned out to be the easy part.
East Lake, ranked No. 3 in the nation in the latest ESPN Rise poll, remained undefeated after cruising to a 5-0 victory over Seminole (9-4). With the win, the Eagles improve to 17-0 and wrapped up the top seed in Class 5A, District 11.
“I was a little worried coming into this game about how we would play with all the emotions surrounding it,” Eagles coach Mike Estes said. “We made some errors, and it took us a while to get going. But we got through it.”
East Lake scored a run in each of the first two innings to take control. In the fifth, the Eagles scored two more to put the game away.
In all, East Lake had 11 hits. Hayley Davis was 3-for-3 and Alyssa Weaver was 3-for-4 to lead the Eagles.
“It was a sad night for us with a lot of tears,” Davis said. “But we still had to focus and gear up for this game. I think we did a good a job with that.”
Alyssa Bache gave up four hits and struck out eight to improve to 15-0. The Warhawks’ only threat came in the fourth when Jennie Sittloh led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. But Bache preserved the shutout by retiring the next two batters.
After the game, Estes gathered the seniors for a meeting. This time he was the one shedding the tears.
“These are the kind of nights that are tough on a coach,” Estes said. “Especially with a senior class as special as this one.”