Hermiston’s softball team left their home field Friday with two more wins, thanks in part to Grace Studer.
While the Bulldogs cruised to an 11-5 win against the Kamiakin Braves in the first of two games, a fourth-inning stumble in the nightcap threatened a split. Studer’s grand slam at the bottom of the seventh inning propelled the Dawgs to a last-minute 12-10 win to end the day.
“When she came up to that last at-bat, she had a plan,” coach Kate Greenough said of Studer. “She centered her hit and extended the ball. Hitting-wise, this was her best performance so far this season.”
And Studer wasn’t the only Dawg to bring the firepower on Friday. Sydney Stefani led off with a home run that sparked a six-run first inning. Bailey Noland would knock away a two-run homer two at-bats later, and Studer posted a two-RBI single. The Bulldogs would send 11 batters to the plate by the end of the inning.
“Sydney is just a leader,” Greenough said. “She’s a trend-setter. The kids try to play like she does. She holds herself to a high standard.”
The Bulldogs ran in five more in the second inning, with Noland and Studer both collecting another RBI each.
It took two Kamiakin pitchers to contain the Bulldogs in the first two innings. Hannah Jablonski gave up 10 hits, 11 runs, eight errors, and three walks across 1⅓ innings on the mound. Emma Wood relieved the last 4⅔, but only managed four strikeouts.
The Braves scattered just three runs across the following two innings in response to Hermiston’s first two offensive showings.
“Our core group is the same as it was last year, with a few new freshmen and sophomores,” Stefani said. “We’ve struggled building our chemistry all season, but today was an indicator of our progress. In that first game, we played with a lot of heart. We let it loose in the second game.”
Stefani, Samantha Atilano and Ashley Cameron all posted a single and a run apiece to open game two, and Stefani saw fit to slug away another home run at the bottom of the second.
At the bottom of the third, Daisy Maddox hit the Bulldogs’ fourth home run for the day, but their game started to falter in the fourth inning.
Despite their five-run deficit, the Braves scored eight runs in two innings, including seven in the top of the fourth, capped off by Jablonkski’s home run in the fifth. By the bottom of the seventh, Hermiston trailed 10-6.
“There was just a lack of focus,” Stefani said of the Kamiakin rally. “There was some lackadaisical playing on our part.”
The Dawgs loaded the bases twice for their final at-bat. Maddox drove Cameron in on a single, and Studer’s walk-off grand slam on a 1-1 count and no outs sealed the rally in dramatic fashion.
“I felt like I was struggling at the plate all day,” Studer said. “When I got up there, I was just looking to score. It feels good to win this one for my team. Kamiakin came ready to fight. I’m glad we stuck it out.”
Maddox led Hermiston in game two, batting 2 for 3 with two runs and four RBIs. Studer’s grand slam helped her to a 1 for 4 performance at the plate with one run and four RBIs.
Wood allowed 10 runs off 16 hits, along with 10 errors and just one strikeout for the Braves.
The back-to-back wins pushed Hermiston (7-1, 5-1 MCC) to the top of the Mid-Columbia Conference standings. On Tuesday, they’ll hit the road to challenge the No. 4 Kennewick Lions for more league action.