Andover's Tess Eubank shuts down Salina South in Cougars' season opener

Paul K. Mogenson
Salina Journal

Salina South opened its 2021 softball season Friday afternoon at Cougar Diamonds and had hopes of getting the new campaign off to a good start.

Unfortunately, standing between in the way was Andover's Tess Eubank.

Eubank, who shut down Maize twice earlier in the week in the season opener, was certainly on her game as she pitched 11 of the 14 innings the Trojans needed to gain a sweep over South, 5-1 and 7-1. 

“She capitalized on throwing high and outside to us,” South coach Brea Campbell said. “We have to be a little more disciplined when we see pitchers like that.

"She just capitalized on her opportunities. She did a good job and threw great games.”

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In both games, the Trojan offense gave Eubank 3-0 leads in the first inning, and though South had chances to break through in the opener, the second game was less climactic with Andover attacking Jenna Henderson, who threw all 238 pitches for South and struggled the longer she had to go.

“Her arm is definitely going to need some ice,” Campbell said of her senior pitcher. “She pitched her heart out tonight. We don’t usually ask pitchers to throw both games, but we were in a tough spot (and) she could get the job done so we had full confidence in her.”

While Eubank had struck out the side in three of her first four innings, she was lifted in the fifth for Kate Ralston, but switched defensive positions allowing her to stay in the game.

It was against Ralston that South failed to score on two excellent opportunities.

In the fifth, Lainey Howard made it to third and courtesy runner Lily Bartley to second, but the threat ended when Reese Altman grounded out to short.

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In the sixth, Kyler Carter led off with a single and Baylee Brin reached on an error. A fly out to center, a strikeout, and an infield popup ended that threat.

Not by chance, Eubank came back for the seventh and retired the Cougars in order.

Getting off to another 3-0 start in game two, Eubank was coasting along into the fifth when Ralston was given another inning to pitch. Eubank was out only one inning and in the Cougar sixth, South and Henderson had one last say against her. With one down and Howard on base, Henderson drove a pitch off the fence in right center to score Howard and end the shutout.

Eubank had high praise for her offense and the defense behind her, but considering she struck out 22 batters in 11 innings catcher Makenna Mallett was her most valuable asset.

She also applauded the windy conditions for her effort in the circle.

“I think that the wind definitely helped me with my screwball, which was on point, and it definitely helped my curveball which kept the batters off-balance,” she said. “I threw a couple of off-speeds in there to keep them a little more off balance.

“We are really good in the (offensive) lineup this year and I see a bright future for us this season."

With the sweep, Andover improved to 4-0.