GIBSONTON — East Bay ace Kayla Cox came within one out of a no-hitter Tuesday night in leading the host Indians to a 6-0 win over Springstead in a Class 5A region quarterfinal.
Cox (14-1-1) allowed a two-out single in the top of the seventh inning with Shannon Cataldo hitting a hard grounder in the hole past shortstop Christina Caisse. Cox, who struck out 17 and walked three, settled for a one-hit shutout.
"She looked really strong tonight," East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez said. "The good thing about it is she gets two days rest."
The Indians host Plant City, a team it has defeated three times this season, in Friday's region semifinal.
East Bay (20-7-1) had seven hits to advance one round farther than last year. Rodriguez said his current squad is more mature, which bodes well for a deep playoff run.
"I think we were really young last year," the coach said. "They've grown up a lot since last year. We have matured a lot. That's the big thing."
The Indians wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard with a run in the first and four through two innings.
Nicole Kennedy walked in the first and hit a run-scoring single with two outs in the second, scoring both times. Following her leadoff walk in the top of the first, she advanced twice on bunts before racing home on Elizabeth Nugent's two-out single.
Allysa Caise added a two-run triple to deep centerfield in the second.
"I think really and truly we were relaxed tonight," Rodriguez said. "We hit the ball hard. I think we were zoned in on (Springstead pitcher Alexis Adams)."
Springstead (12-7-1) did not have a baserunner until a bases-loaded walk to Hailey Drawe leading off the third. Despite two more walks and Cataldo's hit, no Eagle advanced to second base.
East Bay added a pair of runs in the fifth on Victoria Cooper's two-run single. That was the Indians' fourth hit with two outs in the game.