The Hermiston softball team was making good use of Kennison Field this week, working on its defensive skills.
With the 3A state tournament being played at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey, Washington, which has artificial turf on the infield and grass in the outfield, the Bulldogs needed to get a feel for the playing surface.
“That’s why we have been on the football field all week,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t get the preparation we need.”
The Bulldogs (16-8), the No. 2 team from District 8, will open state play at noon Friday against Bonney Lake (20-2).
“They look like they are a good team,” Greenough said.
“They have a good pitcher. We have to play them sometime. We might as well get them out of the way first. The good thing about softball, is any day, anybody can hang.”
The defending state champion Panthers feature pitcher Brooke Nelson, who is headed to the University of Washington in the fall.
Nelson also was named the 2018 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year after ringing up 306 strikeouts, six no-hitters and hitting 21 home runs.
The Bulldogs, who were the No. 3 seed from the Mid-Columbia Conference in the District 8 tournament, have played some of their best ball the past two weeks.
The Bulldogs won back-to-back games against Shadle Park and Kennewick to reach the title game against Southridge, which the Suns won 4-2.
Hermiston came back to earn the second seed to state with a win over Kennewick.
“They are super excited to represent their conference,” Greenough said of her team.
“It has been exciting to see them turn the tide a little bit. They have only had two errors in the past four games. They have picked a good time to play like they can.”
The Bulldogs have come to rely on junior Bailee Noland in the circle the last half of the season, and she’s also been productive at the plate, hitting .597 with 30 RBIs and seven home runs.
The Bulldogs’ team batting average is .385, and they are averaging 7.3 runs per game.