PENDLETON — From batter No. 1, Pendleton’s Kristen Crawford was in for a long day in the pitching circle. Her pitch count swelled and the battles at the plate with Hood River Valley batters built up, but Crawford led the Bucks to a 9-2 victory to start Columbia River Conference play Friday.
Crawford threw 131 pitches in the complete game victory, including a 13-pitch marathon with the Eagles’ leadoff hitter Hallie Curtis. Crawford started the at-bat with two straight strikes before Curtis extended her time at the plate with seven foul balls.
Crawford won the war when Curtis lined out to shortstop Kass Lemberger for the first out of the game.
“She was just hitting anything I gave her that was anywhere close to the strike zone,” Crawford said. “I don’t like walking people. I just want to win the battle.”
Crawford started to get winded in the sixth inning, her delivers to the plate accompanied by the groans of strenuous repetitive motion. Too many more games like Friday’s may become an issue for the Bucks (9-5, 1-0 CRC) after one of the team’s pitchers recently left the roster.
“Kristen’s going to be our girl,” Cary said. “We don’t have anybody else out here who pitches but we have a couple of JV pitchers who we have on speed dial right now. They’re going to have to hustle across town if we get in a jam.”
Hood River picked up both of its runs on home runs early in the contest. Megan Winans struck a straight-away center field home run in the first inning and Curtis hit one in her second at-bat of the game in the third inning.
Curtis’ knock was a line drive to the right field corner that just kept traveling. She thanked the stiff left-to-right blowing wind for that round tripper, which hugged the foul pole.
“I didn’t realize that it was going that far at all,” said Curtis, who charged out of the box expecting a hit off the outfield fence.
The wind played tricks on the Hood River Valley outfielders — to the benefit of Buck Reeghan Lehnert specifically. Lehnert sent a fly to right field in the third inning that was headed straight for the Eagle’s outfielder Winans. A gust altered the softball’s trajectory out of her reach and back to the fence for a two-run triple.
“I was just hoping for the best and going hard,” said Lehnert, who finished with three RBIs and also had a double. “I just listened to my base coaches and kept on going.”
Rayne Spencer added a home run for the Pendleton side in the second inning. She and Darian Lindsey also finished with two hits each for the No. 4 ranked Buckaroos.