GIBSONTON — Flustered by a feeble offensive effort Friday evening against district nemesis Durant, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez stressed the lack of productivity eventually will catch up to his club.
But not until someone catches up to Indians ace Kayla Cox.
In the most dominant seven-inning effort of her life, the right-handed North Carolina State signee struck out 20 Cougars and allowed one hit in a 1-0 triumph on her home field.
A one-out, seventh-inning single by Brittany Harwell thwarted Cox's no-hit pursuit. It wasn't immediately clear if the strikeout total was a county record for seven innings. Last year, Cox struck out 31 in a 13-inning loss to Brandon and 21 in a nine-inning defeat against Bloomingdale.
"There's not much you can do with it," Cougars coach Matt Carter said. "Well, I say that. Yes, anybody's hittable, but tonight she was on and it showed."
Employing virtually her whole array of at least a half-dozen pitches, Cox — who has yet to surrender an earned run in 79 innings — struck out 14 of the first 15 Cougars she faced before freshman Paige Davis led off the sixth with a walk after fouling off several pitches.
To that point, the only pitch Durant (7-5, 3-4 Class 5A, District 8) put in play was junior Lauren Wolfe's hard line drive to third.
"I felt like I was on," Cox said. "I've been working really hard on spins every day and it really produced today. Everything was moving (correctly), thankfully. And without (Sierra) Rock, my catcher, I wouldn't be as good as I am."
Cox got all the run support she'd need in the fourth when Christina Caisse led off with a double, moved to third on Elizabeth Nugent's ground ball and scored on a passed ball.
Nicole Kennedy had East Bay's (9-4, 7-0) only other hit off Wolfe, who struck out nine and walked three in a sterling — yet overshadowed — performance.
The lack of pop from East Bay's offense "is a little bit frustrating, but I know eventually they're going to produce," Cox said. "It's not like they're not trying. I know when the time comes they're going to execute."