Last Friday’s road doubleheader at Redmond provided three scenarios for the Hood River Valley softball team.
Win both and play Pendleton for the league title on May 20. Split and be assured of the No. 2 playoff seed and a guaranteed home game on May 26. Lose both and cross your fingers that Redmond doesn’t win out.
HRV made option No. 3 a moot point by winning game one, 4-3. But they dropped game two, 3-0, giving them no chance of taking first place in their inaugural Intermountain Conference campaign.
“We would have liked to make Tuesday a bigger game,” coach Phil Hukari said of the Eagles’ final regular season game against the undefeated Buckaroos (results not available at press time).
“We could have made our run in the playoffs a little bit easier, but we’re still happy to be playing at home for round one,” he said.
The Eagles will likely host Aloha High School of Portland, which is currently the No. 3 seed from the Metro Conference. A tentative game time has been set for 2 p.m. on Memorial Day, and OSAA ticket pricing will apply.
Hukari said he doesn’t know much about Aloha, but he doesn’t expect any game to be easy.
“The reality for us in this league is that it doesn’t prepare us very well for the playoffs,” he said. “We haven’t seen very good pitching yet, and it’s really going to test our team’s character when we do.”
One thing that worries Hukari is that the Eagles were completely mowed down by Redmond sophomore Ashley Gibson, who “wasn’t amazing but did just enough,” according to Hukari.
“What concerned me is that we got six hits in the first inning of game one, but didn’t score the rest of the way,” he said. “That’s 13 innings without a run.”
Senior Lauren Gaulke had the big hit in the first inning of game one — a towering double that accounted for two RBIs. Meghan Flem and Katie Pritchett also drove in runs for HRV.
Redmond challenged in the bottom of the 7th by scoring three unearned runs via two HRV errors and a couple hits. But pitcher Talia Hinman recorded her 11th strikeout to pick up the victory.
Hinman notched the only Eagle basehit in game two. Meanwhile, Gaulke pitched five innings and had to settle for the loss.