HRV softballers seek to surpass 2002 playoff effort

Season preview

Ask the Hood River Valley softball players what they think about the upcoming season and they are likely to say all the right things.

“We just want to keep it positive and have fun,” junior infielder Ashley Carter says.

“The team looks strong and we’re all anxious to see what we have compared to the other IMC teams,” adds junior utility player Michelle Connors.

But, despite the players’ cautious words of optimism regarding the new season — one in which the Eagles will be competing in the Intermountain Conference for the first time — there are also a few expectations they may have to live up to.

“If we’re not battling for the league title, we will be disappointed,” head coach Phil Hukari said. “We plan to be right in the mix come playoff time.”

HRV is coming off its first state playoff appearance in six years, and most of the team’s core is returning in 2003.

Carter (SS/3B) and Connors (3B) will lead an experienced infield that also features two returning starters — junior Maria Martinez (1B) and sophomore Katie Pritchett (C) — along with senior varsity returnee Becki Flory (2B).

While Connors will play some third base, she will have equal

responsibilities in the outfield as the team’s returning center fielder. When Connors plays center, Carter will move to third, and one of the team’s younger members, like sophomores Ashley Delepine or Katie Flory, will take some outfield reps.

Adding strength to the infield are the Eagles’ top two pitchers from a year ago. First team all-Mt. Hood Conference selection Talia Hinman will enter the season as the No. 1 pitcher, while senior Lauren Gaulke will be the No. 2.

Freshman Stefanie Draper may also be used on the mound this season, but she will likely play first base or designated hitter until she is able to return from a nagging wrist injury.

Likewise, Hukari would like to use fellow freshman Meghan Flem in a variety of roles, including catcher, designated hitter and even the outfield.

“Most days, Meghan will be in the lineup somewhere,” Hukari said. “She has a really strong bat and we need her in the lineup.”

Additional contributors for the Eagles in 2003 will be outfielders Lori Wimmers, a senior slated to start in left, and Ashley Heck, a sophomore who looks like the starting right fielder during the early season.

“I think we’ll be right in there; at least as good as last year,” said Carter. “Making the playoffs and getting our name out there is the biggest thing, and I think we’ll pull it all together this year.”

For that to happen, HRV will need three things to happen: Hinman must stay healthy, Gaulke must pitch as consistently as she did late last season, and the defense that carried them down the stretch in 2002 must also be there.

Oh, and don’t forget about the bats.

“Healthy pitchers and solid hitting will be the keys this year,” Connors said. “We have a lot of talent and I’m really excited.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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