A quick look at the Mt. Hood Conference standings would tell many casual observers that the HRV softball team is one of four teams going to the state playoffs.
Holding a two-game edge with three to play — including a guaranteed tie for fourth place — the Eagles are as close to the dance as most teams would like to be.
But ask coach Phil Hukari and you will get an entirely different outlook.
“We were in a similar position last year and we didn’t get there,” he said. “But unlike last year, we control our own destiny. If we win two out of three, we’re in. If we lose all three, it could get interesting.”
Hukari’s Eagles (8-5 league, 13-10 overall) are still recovering from yet another close loss to league-leading Central Catholic Friday, and still must play second-place Barlow and a tough Reynolds team before putting the regular season to rest.
“We learned last year that we can’t take anything for granted,” Hukari said. “So we’re treating every game like a playoff game.”
HRV battled Central Catholic to the bitter end for the second time Friday, but couldn’t overcome a severe offensive lull in the 3-0 loss.
The Eagles posted just one basehit on the afternoon, but it wasn’t merely a lack of offense that hurt them.
Rams pitcher Brittany Reeves was consistent all day and was backed up by a superlative infield defense, which committed zero errors..
“The difference in the game was that their defense didn’t make a single mistake and ours made a couple,” said Hukari, whose team allowed two unearned runs.
Freshman pitcher Talia Hinman overcame mounting back pain to put together another solid outing, giving up three hits and no walks, while striking out two.
Junior Lauren Gaulke was scheduled to pitch Tuesday’s makeup game at Barlow, but results were not available at press time. HRV plays at Reynolds today and hosts Parkrose Friday.