There’s nothing mysterious about the Coeur d’Alene High softball team.
It’s just that after 25 wins in as many games, including five victories against their intracity rival, no opponent has been able to solve the Vikings.
Coeur d’Alene will head to state in Pocatello after an eight-day layoff to see if it can work the winning formula for three more days. The Vikings, behind purposeful pitching, opportune hitting and base running and steadfast defense, handled Lake City 7-1 in the 5A Region I championship game Tuesday at CdA.
The Vikings, who have won three straight regional titles, will open state play a week from Thursday against the District III (Boise area) third-place team.
Lake City defeated Lewiston 5-1 in the regional opener Tuesday. Lewiston (15-9) travels to LC (17-9) on Thursday in a loser-out game at 4. The winner advances to a play-in game for a state berth Saturday against the District III fifth-place team. The game will be played at Lewiston.
Coeur d’Alene 7, Lake City 1
The Vikings have defeated the Timberwolves by a combined score of 17-2, LC’s runs coming in the last two games.
It took LC 27 innings to finally score a run off sophomore pitcher Heather Helmhout, who may have been at her best against the T-Wolves in the regional title game.
Helmhout (15-0) lived on the outside half of the plate through the first six innings, primarily using a drop curve. She struck out four and allowed just two hits and no walks in that stretch before giving up back-to-back walks and an infield single in the seventh as the T-Wolves loaded the bases with no outs.
“Sometimes it drops and sometimes it curves, but it’s the same pitch,” Vikings coach Larry Bieber said. “At the end she was just grooving it so we could get the outs. They probably scored that run because of me, not her. We just wanted to get the outs and get it over. That’s a typical coach deal.”
No worries, especially with a 7-0 lead. Sarah Wallace hauled in a deep sacrifice fly from Chantal Waide that broke up the shutout. But Wallace put an exclamation point on her catch by throwing the ball back quickly to shortstop Shelli Dodge, who relayed it to catcher Stephanie James as she easily tagged out a second T-Wolf well short of the plate. The game ended on the next pitch when Dani Ghramm hit a line drive that Jackie Lenz snagged in left field.
The present and the future led CdA at the plate. Freshman first baseman/pitcher Jenna DeLong went 3 for 3 with three RBIs and Dodge, a senior, went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
“Our defense is flawless at times,” DeLong said. “And our clutch hitting has been amazing. You hear the girls in the dugout cheering and you get pumped up and you want to get the hits — and then we do. It seems like every time we come through. It’s an honor to be on this team.”
Dodge believes more good things are still to come.
“We have the drive and the ability to win (state),” Dodge said.
The ride so far has been more than satisfying for Bieber.
“It’s been a great year, but it’s not over yet,” Bieber said. “The kids have bought into things. They have a belief that it’s going to continue to be successful. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. The thing I like about them is they look me in the eye and say ‘What’s next coach?’ They don’t have their own agendas. It’s a tight team with great chemistry. It’s nice to have a team like that where you don’t have to put out fires all the time. “
Lake City 5, Lewiston 1
Earlier in the day, The T-Wolves combined a run-scoring single by Kelli Bridges with two Bengal errors to open a 3-0 lead in the third inning as LC posted its fourth win in five games against Lewiston.
Waide added an RBI single in the fourth. Lewiston’s lone run came on an opposite-field single by Heather Cleveland in the sixth. That’s when pitcher Andi Hall worked out of a third jam thanks to an inning-ending double play.
• The 4A Region I tournament opener matching No. 3 Sandpoint at No. 2 Moscow was rained out. The loser-out game was rescheduled for 4 p.m. today.
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