By DAVE LEDER
News staff writer
PENDLETON — Despite a last-minute change of venue, the Hood River Valley softball team managed to start Intermountain Conference play on a positive note last Friday, defeating Pendleton by a score of 9-3.
With the onset of rain threatening HRV’s home field on Friday morning, both schools agreed to play the game in Eastern Oregon. But the game’s location ended up having little bearing on the outcome, as the Eagles scored six runs in the first three innings to cruise to their fourth victory of the year.
“We jumped on them right out of the gate and never let up,” said HRV assistant coach Wayne Smith. “Back-to-back-to-back doubles in the first was just the beginning of the 12-hit barrage.”
Chelsey Elliott, Meghan Flem and Rochelle Friend hit consecutive doubles in the first inning to post two early runs and pace the Eagles to their most productive offensive game thus far in 2005.
Friend, a junior catcher, finished the day with a team-high three hits, while Brianne Rowley and Kayla Monahan each added two base knocks. Katie Pritchett roped a double, while Sarah Wood and Ashley Delepine each tallied singles to help the Eagles improve to 4-3 overall (1-0 IMC).
HRV went on to score four runs in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. Meanwhile, Elliott did her part on the mound, striking out nine and walking just one Pendleton batter on the way to her first victory of the season.
“It was a great game for Chelsey, and she is only going to get better as the season progresses,” Smith said of the Eagles’ team MVP in 2004. “She is starting to locate her pitches well, and I can see her dominating in this league.”
HRV will host a double-header against Mountain View on Saturday before going on the road for the next four league contests. The Eagles also played a non-league tune-up against Centennial on Tuesday, but results were not yet available.
HRV played another non-league game against perennial playoff team Forest Grove on Saturday at Westside Field. After trailing 6-1, the Eagles scrapped their way back into the game before falling 6-4 to the Vikings.
“We hit the ball well and played pretty well overall,” said HRV head coach Phil Hukari. “But I wasn’t that happy with our preparation. We made some mental and physical mistakes that eventually cost us the game.”
Forest Grove took a 6-1 lead into the fifth, but HRV made it interesting with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles tallied six hits on the day, but also committed three errors. Sophomore Lindsey Smith pitched the first three innings and the last two, while Elliott pitched the fourth and fifth.
HRV stands at 4-4 overall.