The Hood River Valley Eagles softball team accomplished something Tuesday that no other team has this season: They beat the Buckaroos.
Freshman Meghan Flem’s infield basehit in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Michelle Connors for the only run of the ballgame, helping Talia Hinman pick up the 1-0 victory over Pendleton.
“This is such a big win,” said Flem, the team’s leading run producer in league play. “I don’t know what to say. They are a great team. But this win should really boost our enthusiasm for the playoffs.”
Hinman pitched seven strong innings to earn the shutout, and also laid down a key sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning to move Connors to third base after a leadoff double.
The Eagles (17-8, 12-2 IMC) managed just one hit off Pendleton senior Anna Wilcox through the first six innings, but they eventually broke her down in the seventh.
Connors accounted for two of HRV’s three hits on the day, cranking a one-out double in the first inning, and then sending a leadoff double to the wall in the seventh. The third hit was Flem’s hard-hit grounder up the middle to win it.
“I had a feeling we would beat them,” coach Phil Hukari said. “There was just something about today that felt right. That, and Talia pitched one of the best games I’ve ever seen.”
Normally a power pitcher, Hinman only struck out three Pendleton batters. But she only allowed five baserunners (two hits, three walks) the entire day — only one past second base.
“I wasn’t really sure what to throw to them because they hit me so hard the first game,” Hinman said in reference to HRV’s 6-1 loss to the Bucks on April 29.
“I didn’t have my best control today, but I got them to put it in play, and the defense backed me up,” she said.
Not used to losing, Pendleton (25-1, 13-1 IMC) was shocked by the outcome, but also gave the Eagles credit.
“They are a good, young team,” said Wilcox. “It would have been nice to keep the streak alive, but it’s better that we lose now than in the playoffs.”
However, inside the home dugout, HRV was ecstatic to get such a big win on the last day of the regular season.
“We were so psyched for this game,” said Connors, “and we eventually figured out their pitcher. Now we know what it will take to win in the playoffs.”
HRV, the No. 2 seed in the IMC, will take on Aloha, the Metro No. 3 seed, Monday at Westside Field. Game time is 1 p.m., and it will be broadcast on KIHR 1340 AM beginning at 12:45 p.m. Meanwhile, Pendleton will host McNary.