Staring down the opposition

Pitchers set stage for offensive explosion at Crook County

PRINEVILLE — The pitchers on the Hood River Valley softball team put on their best game faces last Saturday at Crook County, and led the Eagles to a doubleheader sweep of the Cowgirls.

Talia Hinman and Lauren Gaulke were nearly infallible on the afternoon, pacing the Eagles to wins of 7-2 and 5-1. Both pitchers went the distance, with Hinman picking up the win in game one, and Gaulke securing the victory in game two.

The offense also did its part, cranking out 11 hits in each game. Junior Michelle Connors was the hitting star on the afternoon, recording five RBI’s. Freshman Meghan Flem continued her recent tear as well, knocking in one run in each game while recording four basehits on the day.

Meanwhile, the Eagles (12-7 overall) firmly established themselves as one of the league’s elite, cruising to a 7-1 Intermountain Conference record with six games left to play.

“We’ve been seeing the ball really well of late,” coach Phil Hukari said. “And some girls have finally started to catch up to where we thought they’d be.”

One such player is Hinman, the Eagles’ No. 3 hitter who recorded three basehits in game one, and two more in game two. The team is also benefitting from Connors’ resurgence. With five RBI’s Saturday, she now has eight in the past four games, and has officially ended her hitting slump.

But, as any good hitter knows, it’s hard to get RBI’s when no one is on base. And Connors’ teammates did their part by getting on in front of her.

Notching multiple basehits in game two were Ashley Carter, Connors and Flem. Lori Wimmers, Ashley Heck and Ashley Delepine also had base knocks for the Eagles, who are now gearing up for the home stretch.

“Both games were real battles,” Hukari said. “Crook County played well against us, and it took us a while to get going in both games.

“They avoided giving up the big inning like they’ve done with some other league teams, and we had to keep it together to get two big road wins,” he said.

HRV took on Hermiston Tuesday in Eastern Oregon, but results were not available at press time. Next up is Saturday’s home doubleheader against Bend, which begins at noon at Westside Field.

In other softball news, the Eagles played a nonconference game last Thursday when Oregon City came to town for a reschedule of a March 20 rainout.

However, to HRV’s dismay, the Pioneers rallied to score two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to win the game 6-4.

Freshman Chelsey Elliot pitched her first varsity game, striking out two and giving up just one hit. Gaulke finished out the game on the mound, but the

defense cost HRV with multiple

errors late in the game.

The Eagles tallied 11 basehits, and were led by Connors, Maria Martinez and Katie Pritchett with three hits apiece.

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HRV learned it will be without freshman Stefanie Draper for the rest of season due to wrist surgery.

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