HRV’s final home game of the season came on May 23 in the first round of the OSAA Softball State Playoffs against the Thurston Colts.
This was a matchup between an experienced fifth-ranked Eagles team and an unexperienced 12th-ranked Colts squad.
However, it was Thurston, with its 10 underclassmen — six of them freshmen — who struck first.
After a scoreless first inning for both sides, the Colts quickly put on two baserunners in the top of the second following a walk and a double.
In the third at-bat of the inning, HRV’s starting pitcher Hannah McNerney gave up the first run of the game off a Thurston sacrifice bunt that drove in a baserunner from third base; 1-0 Thurston.
But it was all McNerney and HRV after the Eagles took the first blow by Thurston.
With runners on first and third following the sacrifice bunt for the Colts, McNerney picked up back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning, leaving two Thurston baserunners stranded heading into the home half of the second.
In response to the opening run of the game, HRV hit two singles to put runners on first and third, but with two outs on the scoreboard, the Eagles were unable to drive in the runner at third after a fly out ended the second inning.
After giving up the first run of the game, McNerney and HRV’s defense was nearly perfect for the remainder.
The top of the third began with right fielder Grace Miller running down and diving for a ball in foul territory for the first out of the inning; this was a key moment in the game as it put some much-needed energy and excitement into the home crowd.
A lineout in the following Thurston at-bat led to a McNerney strikeout to end the top of the third.
With momentum and the crowd on HRV’s side, the girls turned their stellar defense in the top of third into instant offense in the home half of the third.
Morgan Baker opened the bottom of the third with a single to center field. Haylee Baker, in the following at-bat, perfectly placed a bunt between the third baseman and pitcher that advanced Morgan Baker to second and Haylee Baker to first.
With runners on first and second, Lauren Decker grounded out, but in doing so it advanced Morgan Baker to third and Haylee Baker to second.
Once again, HRV was in scoring position.
In the fourth at-bat of the inning, Zoe Munn hit a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Morgan Baker, scoring the Eagles’ first run of the game and tying it up at one run apiece.
A ground out ended the third inning for HRV and heading into the fourth it was a 1-1 ball game.
McNerney continued her dominant performance and struck out two of four Thurston batters to move into the bottom of the fourth with the game still tied at 1-1.
Kaylin Winans opened the bottom of the fourth, hitting a line drive single to center field.
However, the single for HRV was followed by back-to-back outs.
With two outs and a runner on second, Lizzie Weekly was up.
Weekly headed into this at-bat at 0-1 on the day, but after building a 3-1 count, Weekly on the fifth pitch hit a two-run home run to center field; HRV 3-1.
Weekly’s two-run shot not only gave the Eagles a two run cushion over Thurston, but it landed in the perfect place behind the fence as her brother Nick Weekly, former HRV baseball standout in 2013, caught his sister’s home run ball.
After catching the ball, Nick Weekly raised it up in the air to acknowledge those sitting in the stands that it was in fact a two-run shot to center field and from that moment on, the home crowd became an advantage for HRV.
Back-to-back singles from Morgan and Haylee Baker, then a Decker walk, followed the two-run home run, loading the bases for HRV with two outs.
Munn, who drove in the first run of the game, was unable to add to the Eagles’ 3-1 lead and picked up the third out of the inning on a fielder’s choice decision by the Thurston infield.
In the top of the fifth inning, McNerney went three-up and three-down to put the bats back into the hands of the Eagles.
HRV opened the bottom of the fifth with a ground out and then a Winans walk.
With Winans on first, Makenzie Chambers in the third at-bat of the inning hit a two-run home run that traveled 30-40 feet beyond the left field fence, giving HRV a 5-1 lead over the Colts.
Thurston picked up the final two outs of the inning and heading into the sixth HRV held a 5-1 advantage.
Again, McNerney made quick work of the Colts’ offense and struck out two of the four batters she faced in the top of sixth, holding Thurston scoreless for a fourth straight inning.
HRV saved its best for last, as the girls scored four of its nine runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Haylee Baker opened the home half of the sixth with a triple to left field, followed by a walk that advanced Decker to first.
HRV then scored off an error by the Thurston catcher, bringing in Baker, and then Munn, in the third at-bat of the inning, hit a sacrifice fly that brought Decker around to score from second base; 7-1 HRV.
A fly out by McNerney in the following at-bat brought up Winans with two outs.
Winans hit a single on the first pitch of her at-bat, bringing up Chambers.
And for the second time in this game, Chambers would hit a two-run home run on the first pitch of the at-bat to put the Eagles up 9-1 heading into the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, McNerney opened the potential final inning of the game with a walk.
With one on and zero outs, McNerney would take care of business.
The next three Thurston batters struck out, two swinging and one looking, and in the first round of the OSAA Softball State Playoffs, HRV defeated Thurston by a final score of 9-1.
HRV totaled eight RBIs and 14 hits as a team.
Leaders in RBI’s for HRV: Chambers (4); Munn (2); and Weekly (2).
Leaders in hits for HRV: Haylee Baker (3); Winans (3); Morgan Baker (2); Chambers (2); Weekly (2); and Ellifritz (2).
For a second-straight year the Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals of the OSAA Softball State Playoffs.
In the quarterfinals, HRV was on the road against the number four ranked Marist Catholic Spartans on May 25 (results unavailable at press time).