BUHL, Idaho – St. Maries came up short of a berth in the Class 3A Idaho softball state championship game Saturday, losing 9-8 in eight innings to Bear Lake.
The loss gives St. Maries the third-place trophy in the program’s first trip to state in softball.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of this team,” said St. Maries coach Cory Stapleton. “The girls’ goal was to get to state.”
St. Maries took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage on a Bear Lake error and a bases-loaded walk to Erika Lehman for the lead.
Bear Lake forced the extra inning and scored twice after starting the eighth under international rules.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, St. Maries’ Kristi Smith hit her second RBI single of the game, scoring Sam Siron. But Smith was tagged out at second as she tried to stretch the hit into a double for the second out. Lehman flew out to the shortstop to end the game.
Lumberjacks senior Rachelle Solom was 2 for 3 with a pair of home runs and four RBIs. Solom’s first two-run homer made it a 3-2 ballgame and her second two-run shot made it a 6-5 game.
“Both teams got the hits when they needed them,” said Bear Lake coach Ken Parks. “We just got the two runs in the extra inning for the win.”
The Bears took a 9-7 lead into the bottom of the eighth after scoring two runs in the top half of the inning as Kaydi Hobbs got on base on a fielder’s choice and sophomore Kallie Grunig laced a double to the outfield gap scoring Hobbs. Shantell Humpherys, pinch-running for Grunig, scored on a single by Katie Bunn.
Junior Janelle Gundersen went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a home run to lead Bear Lake.
In the title game, the Middleton Vikings defeated Bear Lake 5-1.
The Vikings returned only two starters from last year’s team but are now undefeated in their last two appearances at state.
One of those returning players, junior pitcher Donnae Carrell battled through a severe hamstring injury from two weeks ago. She threw every inning in this year’s title run, going 4-0 with 32 strikeouts and one walk.
“Last year, we were expected to win,” said Middleton coach Randy Lyons. “The last couple of weeks have been incredible. The girls seemed to have made up their minds that no matter what was going on around them they were just focused on this weekend. The girls showed class and had real team chemistry.”
Middleton scored four runs in the first inning on three hits and one Bear Lake error. The Vikings picked up another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly after Bear Lake pitcher Janelle Gundersen walked two and hit a batter.
Bear Lake scored its run in the seventh.
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