COVINGTON -- The Eastside softball team had a lot of question marks entering the 2009 season.
The Lady Eagles had a new coach in Jason Stokes and a new lineup after losing eight starters from the previous season.
None of those things posed any problems for Eastside.
After finishing second to Oconee County in subregion play, the Lady Eagles beat the Lady Warriors twice in the Region 8-AAA tournament to claim the region title.
In the state playoffs, Eastside advancd to the quarterfinals in Columbus, taking advantage of softball's new postseason format. The Lady Eagles swept their two playoff series at home against Dunwoody and Ridgeland before dropping two of three games in Columbus. They were eliminated with a 1-0 loss to Lakeview-Fort Oglethrope.
Eastside finished the season with a 27-10 record.
"Before the season started, I said that our goal was to make it to Columbus. We made it, so I would say our season was a success," Stokes said. "Even though I felt like we didn't play very well when we got there, it was an accomplishment to get there."
The Lady Eagles owed much of their success this season to the brilliant pitching of Amanda Henderson, who was the Class AAA Pitcher of the Year. The senior finished the season with 414 strikeouts.
The bad news is Henderson will be gone next year, but the good news she'll be Eastside's only loss to graduation.
"Amanda Henderson will be a big loss. She struck out 414 batters, which is sixth all-time in a single season," Stokes said. "The only good thing is that she is the only girl that we will be losing. We should be able to compete again next year."
This year, Eastside averaged only three runs a game and, even Henderson's dominant pitching, couldn't overcome the lack of offense at times. Seven of the Lady Eagles' 10 losses were by a single run.
Next season, Stokes is looking for more offense from his squad.
"The girls need to get stronger and we need to hit the ball better," he said.