The sixth-ranked Hood River Valley Eagles softball team showed that it's well deserving of its high recognition as it continued its early season domination over nonleague teams with a 10-0 win over the Lake Oswego Lakers.
Sophomore pitcher Kayla Byers (four strikeouts, walk) hurled a one-hitter to help propel the Eagles (8-2) to an impressive five-inning 10-0 mercy rule home win over the Lakers Tuesday at Westside Elementary School.
"I would've liked the no-hitter a little better," said Byers, who has pitched two no-hitters this year. "I was hitting my spots and I felt like I was pitching very well today. I was just hoping that we would have a good game and play together as a team."
Junior Natalia Ames (2-for-2, two doubles, two runs scored) and senior Megan Winans (2-for-3, home run, double) combined for seven RBI to lead the explosive HRV offense, which is ranked first (10.55 runs per game) among all 36 Class 5A squads.
Playing their first game since suffering their first defeat of the season (5-1 loss to West Linn March 27), the Eagles bounced back in a big way. Winans helped provide the Eagles with the early momentum as she blasted a two-out, solo homer over the 200-foot left field fence for a 1-0 first inning lead.
"We always like to get an early lead and try to score more runs than our opponent in every inning, so it was nice to get one run in the first inning," said Winans, who has three homers this season. "I was a little surprised about the lopsided score, but we were expecting to get the win. I definitely feel like we can be a top contender in our league and I think we'll reach the state playoffs again this year."
HRV, led by second-year coach Eric Keller, advanced to the second round of state a year ago after a third-place tie with Pendleton with a 5-7 Columbia River Conference record and finishing 15-12 overall.
"It's going to be a battle among all four league teams," said Keller. "Two teams (The Dalles-Wahtonka, Pendleton) reached the semifinals last year and one (Pendleton) was state runner-up. Our league is tough and every team has lots of their top returning players back this year.
"If we're fortunate to be atop the standings at the end of the season, that sure would be very exciting. That's one of our goals, but we have lots of work to do and there's always something that we need to improve on."
All four CRC teams advanced to the state playoffs a year ago. Defending CRC champ TDW is considered a strong contender again and the Eagle-Indians are currently ranked No. 1.
The highly regarded No. 6-ranked Eagles displayed their powerful offense in the second, highlighted by RBI doubles by junior Hannah Williams and Ames and a Winans sacrifice fly RBI.
"We're doing a good job offensively, so I knew we would hit the ball hard and I felt confident that we would play very well today," said Keller. "Whenever we do that, we usually play tough defense, too. Kayla had a strong pitching performance, while throwing a solid fastball (62 mph) and she did a good job keeping their (Lake Oswego) batters off-balance."
HRV sophomore catcher Annie Veatch (2-for-2, two doubles) helped ignite the offensive surge when she belted a fly ball to center field for a leadoff double. After senior Logan Bailey (two walks, two runs) drew a walk, pinch runner Sydney McHale, a substituted base runner for Veatch, stole third and scored on a LO passed ball for a 2-0 edge.
Ames then connected with a long fly ball deep to center for an RBI double, scoring Bailey. Ames ran home on a Williams double, making it 4-0. A Winans fly to center scored Erika Enriquez, who earlier drew a walk, giving HRV a 5-0 advantage after two innings.
Winans and Ames again combined with key hits in the third as both smashed two-run doubles and Katie White added an RBI single to highlight a five-run third as HRV extended its lead to 10-0. The Lakers avoided a no-hitter with a single in the top of the third.
"I think we responded well after a tough loss in our last game and we all worked hard to get the win," said Ames. "I'm looking forward to having a good year and our goal is to win league and advance far into the playoffs. In order to do that, we'll have to just keep focusing on playing together as a team."
Following a scoreless fourth, the Lakers went down in order in the top of the fifth. Freshman substitute first baseman Breanna Weekly played solid defense to get the final putout of the game on an infield grounder to conclude the contest early in the shortest game of the season for HRV.
Lake Oswegp, of the Class 6A Three Rivers Conference, is winless with an 0-5 record. The Eagles played another TRC squad Thursday and lost 2-1 on the road to the Clackamas Cavaliers. Clackamas (6-2) is ranked seventh in 6A and was a second-round state playoff participant in 2011.
The Eagles were on the road Friday with a 4:30 p.m. contest against the Gresham Gophers (2-5). HRV was hoping to get its second win over Gresham after beating the Gophers 14-0 March 27.
HRV's next home game is Monday at 4:30 p.m. versus a Class 4A Molalla Indians (4-2) squad. HRV opens the 12-game CRC schedule on the road April 13 versus No. 5-ranked Pendleton.