By DAVE LEDER
News staff writer
HOOD RIVER — All the Hood River Valley softball team needed to do last Saturday against Mountain View was play smart and be patient. Throw in a little offense and the Eagles were sure to improve to 3-0 in the Intermountain Conference.
But Saturday’s double-header started off a little slow for the Eagles, who were hoping to erase all memories of a 2-1 home loss to Centennial on April 7.
Mountain View scored two runs in the first inning of game one, forcing the Eagles to play catch-up for the third straight game. But thanks to a series of wild pitches and defensive miscues, the Eagles had tied the game by the bottom of the second inning.
Four runs in the next two innings put HRV up 6-2, while two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth helped the Eagles and pitcher Chelsey Elliott win the game by a score of 8-2.
“I think the Centennial loss helped us come out strong because we know we can’t lose those kind of games if we want to win in the playoffs,” said junior first baseman Meghan Flem, whose six RBI’s in game two helped the Eagles win 18-1 in five innings.
“Now is the time for us to get on a roll. We want to finish as high as we can in the league, and if we keep hitting the ball like that, we think we can go 16-0.”
Led by Flem’s 4-4 effort in game two, the Eagles pounded out 18 basehits, compared to just four for Mountain View. HRV sent 15 batters to the plate in the first inning alone, scoring 11 runs on eight hits.
After a scoreless second inning, the Eagles (6-5, 3-0 IMC) returned to form in the third, scoring seven more runs. Kara Graves started things off with an RBI single, followed by consecutive RBI hits by Lindsey Smith, Katie Flory and Elliott. Flem put an exclamation point on the inning with another RBI single.
“It was a big relief for me to hit the ball so well on Saturday,” said Flem, one of the most feared hitters in the IMC who began the season in a mini-slump.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to drive in runs, so it has been good to see everyone else getting big hits. The whole team has picked it up in league play.”
Smith and Graves each had three singles and two RBI’s in game two, while Elliott went 2-4 with two RBI’s. Kayla Monahan, Rochelle Friend, Brianne Rowley and Katie Pritchett also contributed to the HRV hit explosion.
“Our philosophy is to hit hard ground balls and line drives, and we did that against Mountain View,” coach Phil Hukari said.
“What’s even more encouraging is that we did this without one of our best hitters, Ashley Delepine. My only concern is our consistency. But if we can hit the ball like this the rest of the way, we’ll be competing for the league title.”
Delepine, the team’s leadoff hitter, missed the game due to a family obligation, and was expected to be in the lineup against Hermiston on Tuesday (results NA).
Hukari and his players are more than aware of what Hermiston can do after the Eagles finished second to them in IMC play last year. Even though the Bulldogs are reportedly down this year, the Eagles are not taking them lightly.
“Hermiston is going to be a tough game for us,” Flem said. “Their reputation precedes them. They may not be as strong this year, but they will always come after you no matter what. We can’t let up against them.”
Next up for HRV is a Saturday double-header at Bend. Also looming is a potential league-title showdown against The Dalles-Wahtonka on April 19.