When the chips are down, good teams need to rely on their superstars.
So it’s a good thing the Hood River Valley softball team has more than one to help get the job done.
Sophomore pitcher Talia Hinman was lights-out in six of seven innings Monday, while the Eagle bats came alive early and late during HRV’s 3-2 win over Aloha in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
And it probably didn’t hurt to have a little lady luck on their side either.
With the Eagles trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Hinman reached on a error and slid safely into second on a fielder’s choice by freshman Meghan Flem.
Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, before catcher Katie Pritchett drove home the tying run with a single to right.
Then, as luck would have it, Aloha pitcher Lindsay Fleichman threw another wild pitch with two outs, allowing Flem to score the go-ahead run from third base.
“That’s just our team,” said senior second baseman Becki Flory, who contributed some nice defensive gems along with infield mates Ashley Delepine, Ashley Carter and Lauren Gaulke.
“If we get down, we always find a way to pick each other back up. And Li-Li (Hinman) wasn’t going to let us lose this game. She had her best stuff going at the end,” Flory said.
Hinman was forced to hunker down in the sixth and seventh innings after allowing the Eagles’ one-run lead to slip away in the fifth.
A leadoff hit and opportunistic baserunning helped the Warriors frustrate Hinman, forcing her into two wild pitches that allowed both Aloha runs to score.
But after a short-lived bottom of the fifth, the Eagles mounted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth inning to steal away the game.
“This is easily our biggest win of the season,” said Hinman, who struck out five and allowed two hits and one walk. “The fact that we were able to come from behind showed us that we have what it takes to win in the playoffs. It all just came together.”
Offensively, the Eagles totaled six hits, with Hinman and Carter each notching two singles and a run scored. Meanwhile, Flem and Pritchett each had RBI singles to account for the other two hits.
“If we had scored more in the first inning, it probably wouldn’t have been so close at the end,” Carter said of Eagles’ opening stanza in which they had runners on second and third with one out.
“But the excitement carried us, just like it did against Pendleton. And the seniors got everyone so pumped up that we just had to win it for them,” she said.
HRV now faces a second-round road matchup today against the 2002 state champions and Southern League No. 1 seed, North Medford.
Coaches Phil Hukari, Wayne Smith and the girls loaded up the bus for Medford on Tuesday afternoon, and are scheduled to play today at 4:30 p.m.
“I’m ready to go,” said Hinman, who will likely start against a Black Tornado team that beat Thurston 5-4 on Monday. “As long as we keep playing strong defense and getting those timely hits, we can keep it going.”
Added Flory: “It can’t get much better than this for our senior year. And hopefully, we’re just getting started.”
For a full report on today’s game, see the May 31 edition or visit: www.hoodrivernews.com.