Photo by Adam Lapierre.
Kayla Byers, who is credited with pitching a perfect first game.
The Hood River Valley High Eagles needed two wins to keep their hopes of claiming the Columbia River Conference softball championship alive, and, as expected, that’s exactly what the Lady Eagles did Saturday in a home doubleheader against The Dalles.
Senior Kayla Byers threw a perfect game to help propel the team to a 10-0 win in the opener, and the momentum continued as the Eagles (6-2 CRC, 16-5 overall) had another dominating effort in a 12-1 rout of TDW (1-7, 7-14).
“We really played well in every aspect of the game from pitching to defense to offense,” said a pleased Coach Eric Keller after the series. “We know that we’re capable of competing well and so we just had to get back to the basics and put our focus on playing Hood River Valley softball. Kayla had an awesome performance in the first game and when she’s on, like she was today, it’s really difficult for opposing batters to get hits off her. They (TDW) put just two balls into play and we made the defensive plays behind her, so it was really a fun game.”
The Eagles took control early in game 1 while scoring four runs in the first inning. They followed by adding three in the second and three in the fourth for a 10-0 lead. The lopsided game concluded in the fifth via the 10-run Mercy Rule.
HRV’s offense was solid led by junior Brenna Weekly (2-for-3, 5 RBI), senior Annie Veatch (2-for-3, three runs scored), Made Vallejo (2-for-4) and Kelsey Wells (2-for-3). HRV pounded 11 total hits in the game to take control of the contest. Byers struck out 13 and faced the minimum of 15 batters.
“It felt so nice to come out here and hit really well and to have a good performance in front of our hometown fans today,” said Weekly. “Now we’ll have to work hard in practice this week as we prepare for one of the biggest games of the year on Friday against Pendleton. That should be a real good game.”
It was more of the same in game 2, as the more experienced Eagles (seven seniors, six juniors) played the type of game that is expected of the No. 3 ranked team in the OSAA Class 5A level. A much younger TDW squad (five freshmen, six sophomores) was simply unable to compete at the same high intensity level as the highly regarded Eagles.
HRV jumped ahead early in the first, highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Byers and Veatch to take a 3-0 lead. They extended the margin to 7-0 in the second, when Veatch walloped her second homer to drive in two runs and help the Eagles build a 7-0 lead. HRV’s offense continued to pile up hits (16 total) and runs as the Eagles went up 12-0 in the third. A two-RBI single by Veatch and a two-RBI single by senior Sydney McHale helped the Eagles extend the margin to a double-digit advantage. The contest concluded again after five innings with the Mercy Rule as the Eagles notched a sixth consecutive win.
“Coming out here and getting a sweep at home against The Dalles is a great feeling,” said Veatch. “They dominated our team when I was a freshman, but now it’s just the opposite, because they’re a really young team now.”
The Eagles faced TDW again Tuesday in The Dalles (results unavailable at press time). HRV has four games left in the regular season, with their next contest versus the CRC leading and No. 2 ranked Pendleton Buckaroos (7-1 CRC, 16-5) Friday in Pendleton. The Eagles next home game is May 13 vs. the Hermiston Bulldogs (2-6, 6-14).
“We have to remember that we have to play our brand of softball and as long as we do that, then we’ll be just fine,” said Keller. “It’s going to be a huge game Friday versus Pendleton. It’s going to be a competitive environment. We haven’t faced that type of pressure situation in a long time, so we’ll see how well our team responds.”