WHITEHOUSE -- Gilmer needed a miracle.

Trailing by eight in the seventh inning of Game 2 of a bi-district series against Rusk on Saturday, the Lady Buckeyes had little time to save their season.

Hannah Green doubled and Madie McCurry singled to start things off, providing a spark of hope. But the next two batters grounded out, sacrificing themselves for a couple of runs that did nothing more than lessen the margin of victory.

Preslye Cox, who pitched all game for the Lady Eagles, struck out Karsyn Lindsey for the final out to secure an 8-2 victory and clinch the series.

Rusk will face the winner of a three-game series between Van and Atlanta in the area round.

"The one thing we’re gonna try to put more emphasis on is finishing," coach Tye Wilkerson said. "A couple of these games we’ve had them where we could run rule them and finish a game early.”

The Lady Eagles had that chance Saturday.

Rusk came out hot, scoring in each of the first four innings to take an 8-0 lead. Kristen Tugwell's sacrifice foul in the first started things off, bringing in Grace Young and Abbie Pepin.

The Lady Eagles had an offensive outburst in the third, fueled by a number of Gilmer mistakes. The first two batters reached base via a walk and hit by pitch, and a passed ball scored the second run of the inning.

It seemed Rusk's success in the first two innings was getting to Gilmer.

“We focused a lot on outside hitting before we came out here and played them," Cox said. "We just know (Gilmer pitcher Madeline Barber) threw outside so that’s what we focused on. Whenever she came in on us, we crushed the ball.”

Although Rusk couldn't complete the shutout, it didn't have much to complain about defensively.

Cox paced the defense, finishing with 12 strikeouts and allowing only five hits. The Lady Eagles also kept their composure, committing just one error to Gilmer's six. The Lady Buckeyes' top of the lineup finished only 2-for-8 at the plate.

“When (Cox) is on, she’s tough to hit," Wilkerson said. "She had a huge game on Thursday night. She went 4-for-4 at the plate. Had 10 strikeouts. Hit for the cycle. She comes back and follows it up. Didn’t have as great of a day at the plate today, but when she’s out on the mound, we’ll take it.”

Thanks to the sweep, Rusk avoided playing an extra game. It will now have plenty of time to rest as it prepares for its next opponent.

“We’re gonna do the same thing," Wilkerson said. "I told them to treat this game like it’s Game 1 of the season or the state championship. If we just do what we’re supposed to do and keep doing what we’ve been working on, we’re gonna be fine."

Rusk 8, Gilmer 2

4A Region II Bi-District Game 2
At Whitehouse

Gilmer      000      000     2    --     2    5    6
Rusk       214     100       --     8    9     1

Pitchers and catchers

  • Gilmer: Madeline Barber and Madie McCurry
  • Rusk: Preslye Cox and Lauren Boudreaux

WP -- Cox
LP -- Barber

Doubles

  • Gilmer: Hannah Green
  • Rusk: Molleigh Issacs and Katelin Bryant

Triples

  • Bryan: Briann Pendergraff

Home runs

  • Whitehouse: Sarah Womble, Mahayla Mitchell.