HRV softball produces more offense, but can’t find a way past Pendleton

After winning five of their last six to close out non-league play, the Eagles have not gotten the start to Columbia River Conference games they were hoping for, dropping their third straight game to Pendleton Tuesday evening.

Last weekend, HRV (7-10 overall, 0-3 CRC) lost both games of a doubleheader in Pendleton (9-7 overall, 3-0 CRC), getting shut out in the first game by the Buckaroos, 0-9, and losing by a double-digit margin in the second game, which wound up 15-2.

After producing two runs over the course of two games, HRV returned to its home turf Tuesday looking to ratchet up its offense. And while the Eagles were able to put up five runs off of eight hits, they were no match for the Buckaroos’ bats, which produced 21 hits and 18 runs — three of which were homers — in the six-inning game.

“Pendleton is a solid team,” said coach Eric Keller. “They are tremendous athletes that make plays defensively and offensively.”

After Tuesday’s game, Pendleton ranked first out of all 33 5A teams in runs scored this season, with 140. But despite Pendleton’s prowess, it was HRV that had control in the beginning of the game, not Pendleton.

After the Buckaroos scored a run in the top of the first to get things rolling, HRV fired back in the bottom of the same inning when first baseman Breanna Weekly grounded out to Pendleton’s shortstop, allowing catcher/infielder Zoe Munn — who had just advanced to third off a stolen base — to advance home to make it 1-1. HRV added another in a similar fashion when catcher/infielder Kelsey Wells grounded out to shortstop again, allowing outfielder JoJo Karr to advance home from third.

Pendleton responded in the top of the second with another run, to make it 2-2, and after a scoreless inning from HRV, the Buckaroos’ offense kicked into high gear, producing three runs in the third and four in the fourth to make it 9-2.

The Eagles added another run in the bottom of the fourth when outfielder Jessie Karr scored off a line-drive single to right field from outfielder Makena Zeller, but Pendleton continued to pour it on throughout subsequent innings, scoring another two runs in the fifth and seven runs in the sixth to go up 18-3. To start the final inning, Jessie Karr smashed one to the left field fences to make it 18-4 and Zeller was the final scorer for HRV, who came home off a fly ball hit to center field by Jessica DeHart, which was good for a double.

Kaylin Winans pitched the entire game for HRV, striking out two. Weekly led the team with five putouts on six chances, and Zeller was solid in the outfield with four putouts on five chances.

The three losses to Pendleton makes all the more important for HRV to come away with wins this Saturday afternoon when it plays a doubleheader in Hood River against Hermiston, currently ranked 23rd and only one spot behind HRV both in the state and the conference. HRV is ranked third in CRC and Hermiston is ranked fourth, with the second and third seeds selected for play-in games at the end of the season.

“It is going to be a battle between The Dalles, Hermiston, and us to earn the last two spots in the playoffs,” Keller said.

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