Whoever devised the 2003 Intermountain Conference softball schedule should be commended for their efforts. At least that’s what the Hood River Valley softball team is thinking right now.
The Eagles took care of Mountain View twice on Saturday, sweeping a home double-header with wins of 1-0 and 13-3.
But, more importantly for the Eagles, they raised their IMC record to a sparkling 5-0, which was good enough to put them in a first-place tie with Tuesday’s opponent, Pendleton (results not available at press time).
“We’re not surprised to be 5-0,” said junior third baseman Ashley Carter. “These are the teams we thought we should beat, so the way we look at it, we’re just doing what’s expected of us.”
By the time most people read this, HRV could already be 6-0 in the IMC. But even if the Eagles were to stumble against the Buckaroos, who were 16-0 coming into Tuesday’s game, they would still have plenty of momentum heading into this weekend’s doubleheader at Crook County.
“We’re happy with the wins, but we’re not going to get overconfident,” said senior left fielder Lori Wimmers. “We haven’t seen some of the top teams, and the only team to give us a real challenge so far has been Hermiston.”
Mountain View offered little resistance in game two last Saturday, conceding 13 runs to the Eagles in five innings.
The Cougars did, however, put together a solid defensive effort in game one behind starting pitcher Tracey Van Orsow.
HRV’s lone run in the ballgame came in the fourth inning when freshman Meghan Flem slapped the ball down the third-base line to score pitcher Talia Hinman, who had singled with one out.
The HRV offense only produced four hits in game one, but that’s all they would need. That’s because Hinman allowed just one hit and struck out seven while going the distance for her sixth win.
“Talia looked great,” catcher Katie Pritchett said. “She was hitting her spots really well, and she only seemed to get stronger.”
“She definitely makes our jobs easier,” added infielder Ashley Delepine.
Delepine and the Eagle defense committed only one error in game one, which also helped Hinman find the late-game cruise control that has made her famous.
“I thought our pitching in both games was pretty solid,” coach Phil Hukari said of Hinman and game two starter, Lauren Gaulke. “It will have to hold up, though. We’re just getting into the heart of our schedule, and we will need our pitchers to be strong.”
The HRV offense made Gaulke’s outing relatively easy, cranking out 11 hits in five innings. Flem was again the hero, going 3-3 with four RBI. Junior centerfielder Michelle Connors also had a big game, going 2-3 with three RBIs.
“We finally got to their pitchers in game two,” said Connors, the Eagles’ clean-up hitter who has been mired in a self-proclaimed slump for the past couple weeks.
“We saw what they had to offer the first couple times up, and then we just hammered it.”
Hinman added two basehits to back up Gaulke, who gave up four hits and one walk to pick up her second league victory. She also retired the last seven batters she faced.
“We’re in a pretty good position right now,” said Hukari, “but we still have to go out and beat everyone we play in league. Tuesday’s game with Pendleton is a big game, but no bigger than any other league game. We just want to finish top two and go from there.”
For a wrap-up of Tuesday’s battle, see the May 3 edition.