By ADAM LAPIERRE
News staff writer
April 8, 2006
Complacency is a killer in the game of fastpitch. One slack inning can mean the difference between winning a well-played ballgame and losing one, and a couple of errors can mean the difference between holding a six-point lead and losing it.
And the Eagles nearly fell victim to it Wednesday evening, on their home turf.
After building a 6-0 lead over Sandy High School, the Hood River girls let up in the final inning and got caught off-guard by the Pioneers, who mounted a major two-out comeback aided by two HRV errors to tie the game 6-6 before the Eagles could close out the top of the seventh.
But the Hood River girls would not lose their last non-league game of the season.
They started the bottom of the final inning at a strong point in their batting order, with Megan Flem batting first. She singled and Brianne Rowley, who finished the day with three hits, stepped up and smacked a double into the outfield. Flem would score the winning run on the hit and the game ended 7-6.
Until the final inning, the Eagles controlled the field and the pace of the game. Chelsey Elliott started on the mound and would strike out eight batters, walk one and allow only one hit before being relieved by Stefanie Draper in the fifth. Draper struck out five Sandy batters in two innings, while walking four and giving up two hits.
At bat, the Eagles had nine hits, scoring two runs in the second, third and fourth innings and one in the seventh to seal the win. Rowley was hottest with the stick, collecting a single, a double and a triple. Elliott and Flem picked up two hits each to top the team’s hitting highlights.
The game was the team’s final season warm-up before facing Intermountain Conference rivals starting on Saturday at Mountain View High School. The girls will then play three games in a row at home, against Hermiston on April 11, Bend on April 15 and The Dalles on April 18.
At 8-1 so far, the Eagles hold the best record in the IMC and, as coach Phil Hukari commented recently, they look to be the team to beat in the conference this season.