BUHL — The morning brought disappointment, and the evening brought jubilation Friday for local teams at the 3A softball state tournament.
Fittingly, after the complicated gauntlet of the state tournament bracket, those local teams—Filer and Buhl—will meet again Saturday morning.
Long before locking up at least a fourth-place finish at state, Buhl’s day started with a six-inning, 14-3 loss to a Bonners Ferry team that hit, hit again, then hit some more for good measure.
“We were outperformed and outmatched. Bonners is a good team, and we just got outmatched,” said Buhl head coach Derrik Brinkman.
Filer’s day started by falling behind early and eventually losing 8-4 to Timberlake.
Both teams bounced back in the following two games, but did so in drastically different fashions.
Buhl jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Marsh Valley early in the afternoon. The Indians handed the ball back to their ace pitcher, Madison Somers, despite her tough outing just a few hours earlier.
This time, it paid off.
Somers gave up just two runs through six innings. Buhl tacked on four insurance runs in the top of the seventh on several hits, a Marsh Valley error, and back-to-back illegal pitch violations to take an 8-2 lead. Those runs proved to be crucial, as Marsh Valley scored two in the bottom of the inning, but could not close the gap.
In all, Somers struck out 10 and gave up 11 hits and four runs (one earned).
“There was never a question that she would pitch for us. She got us here, and we’re going to stick with her. She’ll go until she can’t go anymore,” said Brinkman.
Filer, on the other hand, trailed the entire game against Weiser, but plated four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 9-7 lead. The final two came on a hot-shot ground ball hit by freshman Riley Eldridge that Weiser’s second baseman could not handle.
The Wolverines scored one run in the bottom of the frame, but senior Katherine Ferrell closed things out with a strikeout. The Wildcats opted to give the ball to Ferrell, their experienced number two starter, and she provided enough for the win.
“I told the girls, ‘this is your last game.’ They thought I might have quit on them when we got down, but no matter whether I was up or down, it could have been their last game. It wasn’t about me. They took it,” said Filer head coach Buck Taylor. “Our veterans stepped up. Idanna Cobb had been struggling, and she had a huge hit. There’s something to be said for that veteran leadership.”
In the third game of the day for the two Magic Valley squads, both teams maintained their differing styles of victory.
Buhl fell behind 2-0 early to Teton, but used a four-run third inning to vault ahead and stay ahead for a 9-2 win. The Indians prolonged the inning by getting on base via Teton error, then scored each of their four runs with two outs. They played add-on from there, scoring three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Somers was again handed the ball with the Indians’ season on the line, and again she came through. She scattered eight hits and walked one while giving up two earned runs.
“To pitch three games in the state tournament in one day is pretty awesome. She’s going to have to go tomorrow too. (Number two pitcher) Westy Anderson hurt her knee sliding into a base, so she’ll go again tomorrow. It was gutty. What else can you say about it? She didn’t question me. She just wanted to know how much time she had to warm up. That was it,” said Brinkman.
The Indians pounded out 10 hits in the game, led by Kyra Azevedo, who went 2-for-4 with a double, Somers, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, Kelbie Kennison, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Kayla Cole, who hit a two-run home run.
Filer, meanwhile, played the long game once again versus the two-time defending state champion Homedale Trojans.
The Wildcats got on the board first when Makenzie Kohler slashed an RBI single to right field. Homedale knotted things up in the second inning, but Katherine Ferrell drove in two more in the third with a single.
Homedale tied things again in the fifth inning on a Filer error. Second baseman Jayden Stoddard limited any further damage by making a diving stop and throwing out the runner at first from her back.
Filer fought back once again to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a Homedale error. Roz Triplett capped off a masterful performance in the circle with a perfect seventh inning, despite dealing with a sore shoulder, and lifted the Wildcats to a 4-3 win. She kept Homedale hitters off balance all game by changing speeds, and she consistently threw her changeup for strikes.
“I felt great. My shoulder was hurting a little bit, but I was really confident in my changeup. It was working great today,” said Triplett.
Saturday morning, for the eighth time this season, Filer and Buhl will face off, this time with different trophies at stake. The game will start at 10 a.m., and the winner will be guaranteed at least a third-place finish at state.
“No matter what happens, we’re going to get a trophy. There are 28 other 3A teams here that started the softball season, and we’re in the final four. It speaks to our conference that there are four teams left, and we have two, and the north (Bonners Ferry and Timberlake) has two,” said Brinkman.