Young stars shine as HRV softball wins a pair

Hinman pitches beautifully, Connors knocks in winning run in 10-inning thriller

HOOD RIVER — With its full artillery intact, the HRV softball team hosted a pair of pitcher’s showdowns Saturday at Westside Field.

Every phase of the Eagles’ game was deadly as the cool-handed duo of Talia Hinman and Lauren Gaulke silenced the bats from Heritage and Kelso high schools (Wash.) to even their preseason record at 3-3.

After missing three of the team’s first four games, Hinman, a freshman pitcher, made her return to the lineup and fired a gem to lead the Eagles past Heritage 1-0 in the day’s first game.

Hinman pitched 10 innings (seven regulation, three extra innings) and was nearly perfect, giving up just one walk on six hits to go with nine strikeouts.

“Talia’s return was big for the team,” coach Phil Hukari said. “Seems like every time she needed a strikeout or a groundball, she came through.”

Also coming through in the clutch for HRV was sophomore Michelle Connors, who picked up the game-winning RBI in the 10th inning, driving home Hinman from third with a long sacrifice fly to left.

Connors later added to her heroics in game two against Kelso with an RBI double in the second inning of a game the Eagles went on to win 4-2.

“I was pretty happy with how the day turned out,” Connors said. “It feels good to get a couple wins against two good teams like that.”

Lori Wimmers’ swing also started to show some sting Saturday, as she tallied two RBIs to lead the awakening HRV offense. Becki Flory picked up the final RBI of the game on a fifth-inning single that scored Whitney Zuercher.

“We hit the ball well in both games,” Hukari said. “We’re not yet getting the crucial hits when we need ‘em, but our defense is much improved and the pitching is coming around.”

Gaulke showed no signs of slowing down in her fifth start of the season, tossing a complete game with five strikeouts against Kelso to push her record to 2-3.

Hukari hopes to have both Gaulke and Hinman available for today’s spring break tournament against Beaverton, Pendleton and Sherwood.

HRV plays Beaverton at noon and the winner of Pendleton vs. Sherwood at 2 p.m.

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