Bulletin staff report

Wade Kinkade called it “a long day at the ballpark.” Kinkade’s Bend High softball team can thank Kayla Byers for that.

Byers tossed shutouts in both games of a doubleheader Saturday, striking out 21 over two games in leading Hood River Valley to 4-0 and 7-0 Class 5A nonconference victories over the host Lava Bears.

“Kayla is very tough,” said Kinkade, whose team had two hits in the first game and three in the second against the Eagles’ senior right-hander. “She’s arguably the best pitcher in the state.”

Not so arguable is Hood River Valley’s No. 1 ranking in Class 5A, and they proved it by twice taking down a Bend High team that had won six in a row.

The Bears stayed close in the first game behind the pitching of junior Megan Berrigan, who went the distance and allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking none.

“All in all, it was a good pitching performance by Megan.” said Kinkade. “We just couldn’t do anything against their pitcher.”

Bend threatened in the first inning, when Lisa Sylvester hit a double.

But she was left stranded at third, and the only other hit allowed by Byers was a double by Awbrie Elle Kinkade. Byers struck out 11 in the opener and issued one walk.

The Lava Bears (6-3 overall) also got complete-game pitching in the second game from Alexis Hill-Gruenberg. And the senior right-hander was effective — but not until Hood River Valley (8-2) pushed across three runs in each of the first two innings for a 6-0 lead.

“She started slow, but she finally got it going,” Wade Kinkade said of Hill-Gruenberg, noting that the Eagles scored just one run over the final five innings.

Byers had 10 strikeouts in the second game. She allowed three singles, to Sylvester, Kendall Kramer and Hill-Gruenberg.

“When you don’t face that caliber of pitching on a regular basis,” Kinkade said, “it’s difficult.”

The Lava Bears open Intermountain Conference play Wednesday with a doubleheader at Summit.