HERMISTON — The 2017 softball season did not start the way the Hermiston Bulldogs wanted it to, after Ridgeview handed them an 11-run loss in the season-opener on Tuesday.
So when the Bulldogs gathered at the field at Rocky Heights Elementary on Friday for the team’s home opener, there was a little extra motivation to bounce back. And facing the St. Helens Lions Friday, the Bulldogs were able to rebound in a big way with a 16-2 victory in five innings.
“I think it had a lot to do with the atmosphere here,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “The girls were excited to have a lot of people here and they were drilling the ball all game.”
Hermiston (1-1) tallied a total of 14 hits in the game and four of the 10 batters in the game finished with at least two hits. Sydney Stefani and Ashley Cameron led the Bulldogs with three hits apiece, with Stefani adding three runs scored and an RBI and Cameron smashing two triples with two RBIs.
“The girls were just patient today and they drove the ball,” Greenough said. “They hit it where it was pitched, we didn’t swing at bad pitches ... they waited for the pitch and drove them.”
Another Bulldog that had a big day at the plate was Ellery Jones who went 2-for-4 but reached base in all four at-bats. She also added three RBIs and scored four runs on the day. Jones credited her success, and her teams’ success, at the plate with the ability to read the pitches well from St. Helens pitcher Brooke Scheer.
“I was reading it really fast out of the hand so that made it really nice,” Jones said. “But we were able to hit it to the right side, the left side wherever the pitch was and I think seeing the ball was a big part of that.”
Jones scored the first run of the game on a throwing error by St. Helens’ right fielder in the first inning, and Hermiston added one more run in the first behind an RBI single by Kalei Smith to make it a 2-0 game. St. Helens (0-2) then answered with a run in the top of the second on an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 2-1.
In the bottom of the second, Jones stepped to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs and smashed a two-run single into left field to make it a 4-2 game. Both Bailee Noland and Ashley Cameron both added RBI hits in the inning as well, to give Hermiston a 6-1 lead after two.
St. Helens looked like it might get some offense going in the third inning, drawing back-to-back walks and a bloop single to right field to load the bases with nobody out. However, Hermiston was able to escape the jam after allowing just one run, as Bulldogs pitcher Julissa Almaguer re-focused and induced two easy groundouts and a strikeout.
“That was huge for us,” Greenough said. “It was nice too because it’s early in the season and that might be a time where you see kids get nervous and sit back a little on their heels, but it was huge for her (Julissa) to go after the ball and great for the defense because they were ready for anything.”
“That’s something we’ve really worked on is to stay strong in situations like this,” Jones added, “we don’t back down and we continue to work. I think we really just backed our pitcher up there and we were able to come back from that and get out of the inning.”
Almaguer had a solid day in the pitching circle, tossing four innings and giving up just three hits, two runs and two walks with a pair of strikeouts. Julissa’s younger sister Janelle replaced her in the fifth inning and allowed just one hit in a scoreless frame.
Hermiston rode the momentum from that third inning into back-to-back five-run innings from its offense to jump into a double-digit lead and bring the 10-run rule into effect. Greenough said that she hopes this game can be a launching point for her team and a confidence boost moving forward.
“I just want them to get confidence in their hitting,” she said. “They’re young but they’re ballplayers and I want them to make sure how good they really are and they showed that today. They worked hard and felt good and it was a great rebound.”
R H E
SHH 011 00 — 2 4 7
HHS 245 5X — 16 14 2
(SHH) B. Scheer and M. Massey. (HHS) Ju. Almaguer, Ja. Almaguer (5) and B. Noland. W — Ju. Almaguer, L — B. Scheer.
3B — A. Cameron 2 (HHS).
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