In a game that was close in the early going, Elma relied on the long ball to pull away from Hoquiam in a 14-6 victory.
With the help of a homer from Destry Dineen and another round-tripper from Kali Rambo, the Eagles locked up second place in the Evergreen 1A league and a first-round bye for the district tournament with the win.
Rambo was able to solve the riddle of hitting off Hoquiam pitcher English Hyde.
“You have to stay off the rise ball,” she said.
Elma’s patience at the plate combined with some Hoquiam defensive miscues led to the Eagles putting runs up on the board.
When Elma had ducks on the pond, their offense routinely found ways to cash in, including a four-run outburst in the seventh that extended the lead.
Elma head coach Roger Elliot was pleased his team achieved a pre-season goal of earning a first-round bye.
“That was our goal, to get either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed and we got that locked up now,” he said. “The girls came out and we’ve been working on the rise ball and thats what we got today (from Hyde). It finally paid off.”
The win pushed Elma’s win streak to four games.
Meanwhile, Hoquiam is still a half game up on Forks as the Grizzlies cling to the third spot in league standings, but Grizzlies head coach Keith Reynvann has not been pleased with his team’s recent performances.
“We have to make plays and the last few games we haven’t been doing that,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. We can’t give up that many runs.”
After losing the lead in the fourth inning, Hoquiam had an opportunity to mount a comeback in the sixth.
Dineen had kept Grizzly’s bats quiet until she ran into some control issues in the sixth. Elliot made some adjustments and brought Quin Mikel into the circle with runners on second and third with no outs.
After hitting the first batter she faced, Mikel came up big with a strike out followed by two infield pop outs to get out of the jam.
Elliot said he felt confident Mikel would preserve the team’s lead.
“Dineen was pitching well but the cold kind of got to her a little bit at the end,” he said. “It’s real nice to have someone like Mikel in your bullpen. She came in and threw strikes. You never really have to worry about her.”
Hoquiam will try to end its three-game skid in a non-league matchup against Black Hills at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Elma faces league-leading Montesano at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
While the Eagles celebrated their most recent victory and clining of a bye in districts, Dineen said it was the support of her teammates that has helped her the most this season.
“I knew my team had my back. We had a couple of errors but I knew we were going to bounce back from it,” she said. “All my pitches were working early on and my team was hyping me up so it helped a lot.”
Hoquiam 004 101 0 — 6 9 0
Elma 010 414 4 — 14 14 2
WP — Dineen (5 IP, 4 K, 2 BB); LP — Hyde (6 K, 2 BB)
Leading Hitters: E — Dineen (4-5, 3R HR, 4 RBI); Rambo (2-5, HR, 3 RBI). H — Hyde (2-4. 2R HR, 2 RBI); German (4-4, 2B)