BUHL – Filer and Buhl came a long way over the weekend after a pair of losses on Friday.
The two Magic Valley teams faced off Saturday morning, and in typical Filer and Buhl fashion, a pitcher’s duel ensued, with Filer coming out on top 2-0.
Filer advanced to take on Timberlake, the team that sent them on the long, winding loser’s bracket just one day earlier, with a spot in the 3A state championship game on the line. The Wildcats handed the ball to a freshman, Aspen Ryan, to make her first of the entire postseason.
She gave them a shot.
Filer eventually fell by a score of 8-6, but Ryan tossed four scoreless innings to start the game, and exited in the sixth inning with Filer trailing 6-4.
“That was one of the best games I’ve seen Aspen pitch. She shut Timberlake down (in relief) on Friday, and she was phenomenal again today. She kept them off-balance and the movement was good. She was ready to take the ball,” said Filer head coach Buck Taylor. “As soon as I went to (ace pitcher) Roz (Triplett) and said I was going to give it to her, she just said, ‘okay.’ She’s a great senior leader.”
Junior third baseman Idanna Cobb put the Wildcats on the board in the fourth inning with a solo home run, then slugged another home run, this one of the two-run variety, in the following inning to put Filer ahead 3-0. Cobb received a Cortisone ejection in her wrist earlier in the week to alleviate wrist pain that had hampered her during the regular season.
“She’s been bothered by it all year. This is what she’s used to. This is Idanna, normally. I would put her up against any third baseman in the state. She struggled all year because of the injury, but what we saw today is the real her,” said Taylor.
Timberlake tied the game with a three-home run in the bottom of the fifth. Filer responded in the top of the sixth, however, when leadoff hitter Roz Triplett doubled into the right center field gap, and Ryan slapped a single the other way to drive her in.
The bottom of the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as Timberlake plated five runs off of Ryan and senior Katherine Ferrell. Filer still had one last chance in the seventh inning. The Wildcats scored two runs to cut the deficit to 8-6 and had runners on first and third with Triplett, the go-ahead run, at the plate.
Triplett squared up the ball, but lined it directly into the Timberlake centerfielder’s glove.
“Some of our seniors had been struggling, but that was great. Kat (Ferrell) got a base hit, Jayden (Stoddard) got a base hit, and Roz has been great. Three of the four seniors had to do work for us to have a chance. I turned to Jayden at third base when Roz came up and said, ‘you ever seen Roz hit a home run?’ She hit it well. That’s who we wanted there,” said Taylor.
After missing the state tournament last year, Filer will take home a third-place trophy in Taylor’s first year as head coach. The Wildcats lose four seniors from this year’s group: Triplett, Ferrell, Stoddard, and Makenzie Kohler.
For Buhl, the day ended about two hours with a fourth-place finish, but the sting of defeat was much the same.
“This is the last group that I’ve coached since they were eight or nine years old. They’ve been leaving me one year at a time, and this is the last year that I’ve coached the players from eight years old on. To see those players work their tails off this year, I couldn’t have asked for more. They fought through it yesterday after getting outplayed by Bonners Ferry, and I’m proud of how they played today,” said Buhl head coach Derrik Brinkman.
Junior Madison Somers pitched her fourth complete game in a span of 24 hours in the loss. Just as Brinkman promised after the first game of the tournament, he rode his ace as far as she could go. She told him after the game that she would have pitched another game if needed, but she probably wouldn’t have been very effective.
“My arm is a little sore. I haven’t ever pitched this much, but it’s good. I iced last night,” said Somers. “I want to pitch. I love pitching. I wanted to give it my all until I couldn’t go anymore.”
Ferrell earned the complete game shutout in the circle for Filer, and freshman shortstop Sophie Bartholomew drove in two runs early. That was it for the scoring, as Somers and Ferrell locked in, and each team played virtually flawless defense.
Buhl loses five seniors from this year’s team, including the top two hitters in the lineup who double as Brinkman’s twin daughters, McKenna and Madison, number two starting pitcher Westy Anderson, and cleanup hitter Kayla Cole.
“I can’t say enough about what these girls. In our huddle, there were tears, but I told them that they better be tears of joy. We went out playing about as well as we’ve played all year. We hit the ball fine, and Filer made plays. Kat threw great, and so did Madi,” said Brinkman. “It’s pitching that gets you where you want to go, and you have to get a few breaks in the middle.”