Fastpitch coaches optimistic despite playoff loss

May 28

Hood River Valley High School softball is over for the year. A tough 4-0 loss Wednesday afternoon at Sprague High School wrapped up the Eagles' post season in the third round of the state playoff tournament.

Despite the loss, HRV coaches were optimistic about the team's performance.

"What a great run this team had," said assistant coach Wayne Smith. "They played with such passion and desire. It was fun to watch all their successes and the growth as softball players."

Head coach Phil Hukari commented, "I thought the Eagles competed and never gave up but it just wasn't our day… that is the way softball is sometimes."

Sprague's tough defense won the game by shutting Hood River down to three hits in all seven innings of play. "The pitcher for Sprague kept us off balance by throwing various pitches and speeds throughout the game," Hukari said. "We never really could get our offense on track."

On defense, Hood River gave up four runs off seven hits and one error. Sprague scored one run in the first, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth. Behind by two runs, the Eagles had an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth inning off back-to-back singles by Megan Flem and Brianne Rowley. With no outs in the inning, the two advanced to second and third base off a wild pitch. Two strikeouts and an easy pop fly followed, shutting down Hood River's best opportunity of the game.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hood River had one final chance to keep their season alive. With a walk, then a single by Katie Pritchett, two runners were on base with only one out. Katie Flory hit an infield ball for out two, followed by a grounder by Lindsey Smith that ended the game and the season for Hood River.

"Sprague made use of their opportunities and HRV did not," Hukari said. "A break or mistake here and there will lead to a defeat. The last two weeks we faced our toughest opponents and much of our offense was non-existent. We never did have that break through offensive day which could have given us some momentum."

Coach Smith gave one final bit of optimism after the game; "I can't wait until February 20, 2006. We are going to be back in the saddle again with a group of returning players that are just awesome!"

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