Hoquiam made it easy for itself Saturday afternoon, showcasing its offense and pitching against rival Aberdeen at Gable Park.
The Grizzlies never allowed the young Bobcats to gain a foothold in this non-league softball game, scoring four runs in the first inning and piling on in every inning for a 12-2, five-inning victory.
Junior ace starter Bailee Bradley scattered three hits, struck out seven and added offense to help herself, a game-ending two-run home run to center field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“It is nice to come out in the first inning and get runs early,” HHS head coach Keith Reynvaan said. “In every inning, except the fifth, we got the leadoff batter on base. Of course, the long ball always helps. Bailee looked good today, hitting her spots and threw a lot harder today. She looked confident.”
Bradley was comfortable from the start. After going 1-2-3 through the top of Aberdeen’s lineup, she saw her teammates load up on Bobcat freshman Kyra Gallinger.
HHS leadoff hitter Hannah Hliboki started with a single, Ashlynn Wakefield followed with a double to center field and Kayla Hilliard’s infield single netted the first run of the game. A throwing error scored Hliboki.
Bradley added a two-run double to left-center field and Katelynn Paladin knocked in a run on a single up the middle for a 4-0 Hoquiam lead with no outs in the first.
Gallinger settled down to get out of the inning without further damage, but the tone was set.
Aberdeen did show some life at the plate against Bradley — seniors Kiana Dixon and Alexxi Timmons each smashed solo home runs to left-center field in the second and fourth innings, respectively.
“Our offense was amazing today; I couldn’t have asked for a better team today,” Bradley said. “I had to adjust a bit, because I knew Alexxi and Kiana can hit inside pitches really well. I may have missed a spot once or twice there. This is a great start. We were all nervous coming in. This was a real big confidence booster and I believe we’re going to play very well this season.”
“We have a young pitching staff and they’re going to go through some growing pains,” AHS head coach Jeff Timmons said. “Our two senior captains, they’re going to hit like that. We just need to do a better job of getting runners on in front of them. I have to give Bailee 110 percent credit. She’s going to have a good season.”
Senior second baseman Kayla Hilliard punctuated her three-hit, three RBI day in the second inning with a three-run home run, with no outs, in the second inning. Hliboki and Wakefield scored on the hit and Gallinger was pulled from the circle for sophomore reliever Erin Kuhn.
Up 7-1, Hliboki slugged a two-run home run to left-center field in the third inning. The sophomore third baseman finished with three hits and three RBI for Hoquiam. Hliboki drove in a run in the fourth inning at 10-2, setting up the game-winner for Bradley.
Hilliard hit a one-out single to center field to set up Bradley, who got just enough on her swing off Kuhn to lift the ball over the center-field fence for the two-run homer and the mercy rule ending.
“We had 16 hits (against Black Hills), too,” Reynvaan said. “We had 10 hits against Yelm, but left runners all over the place. It is nice to get them with runners on base.”
On Monday, Hoquiam hosts Centralia. On Tuesday, Aberdeen travels to Centralia.
Aberdeen 010 10 — 2 3 1
Hoquiam 432 12 — 12 16 0
Gallinger, Kuhn (2) and Timmons; Bradley and Burnett.
RBI: Aberdeen — Timmons, Dixon. Hoquiam — Hliboki 3, Hilliard 3, Bradley 4, Paladin. Three hits: Hoquiam — Hliboki, Hilliard. Two hits: Hoquiam — Wakefield, Bradley, Creviston, LaLonde. Home runs: Aberdeen — Timmons, Dixon. Hoquiam — Bradley, Hliboki, Hilliard. Doubles: Aberdeen — Chesterman. Hoquiam — Bradley, Wakefield.
Winning pitcher — Bradley (seven strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Gallinger (one strikeout, one walk).