HRV softball travels to Forest Grove Friday

HOOD RIVER — Already assured of a playoff spot, the HRV softball team had very little on the line Friday for its final league contest against Parkrose.

But someone forgot to tell Lauren Gaulke, the junior pitcher who hurled her second straight outstanding effort in the team’s 7-2 win at Westside Field.

Gaulke, who has been forced into full-time duty with a back injury to freshman pitcher Talia Hinman, went the distance for the third straight game, giving up just two runs on four hits. She also struck out four and walked none.

Gaulke added two basehits to help lead a 10-hit offensive attack. Lesley Betts went 3 for 3 and scored three runs, while Michelle Connors knocked in three runs to give HRV all the momentum it would need to raise its conference record to 10-6 (15-11 overall).

Whitney Zuercher, Lori Wimmers and Angie Martin also added RBIs to the cause, and gave the Eagles a confidence boost heading into Friday’s first-round state game at Forest Grove.

Despite having an identical record as Gresham, HRV enters the tournament as the fourth seed from the Mt. Hood Conference based on an 0-2 head-to-head record against the Gophers.

Forest Grove beat Dallas 12-1 on Monday to earn the fourth seed from the Pac-9 conference.

The team hopes to have Hinman back for Friday’s game, but she is still recovering from a strained muscle in her lower back.

“If it were up to me, I’d be playing in the playoffs,” she said. “I’m hoping that these couple weeks of rest will be enough to get me back out there.”

Hinman’s teammates understand how valuable she has been to the team this season and are also keeping their fingers crossed.

“Talia helped us get here and has been a big part of our success,” Betts said. “She’s pretty stubborn and I expect she’ll play if she’s not hurting too bad.”

Gaulke would get the nod if Hinman cannot go, but the way she has been throwing the ball, coach Phil Hukari is optimistic.

“If she keeps throwing like that, we can play with anyone,” he said.

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