Coeur d’Alene High softball coach Larry Bieber is the first to tell anyone that he has a horrible memory.
Ask him how many state titles and runner-up finishes his teams have accrued since the Vikings switched to fastpitch in 1995, though, and the answer comes quickly.
“I don’t know how I remember those things, because I have a bad memory with most things,” he said.
CdA has captured four state titles and finished runner-up five times. And the Vikings have qualified for all but one state tournament. So Bieber has an idea of what it takes to win a state title. Or at least challenge for one.
While he likes the way his team is playing going into state, there’s another team he said is the favorite – Lake City.
“They’re the team to beat,” Bieber said.
State begins this afternoon at CdA’s Ramsey Park. LC and CdA will play at the same time – 3 p.m. – on adjacent fields. LC takes on District III runner-up Borah (21-8) and CdA faces District III champ Timberline (21-4).
Both LC and CdA have beaten three state qualifiers. The Timberwolves defeated defending state champ Eagle (8-0), Twin Falls (5-1) and Centennial (10-1) at the Idaho Sporting Goods tournament in mid-March while CdA topped Eagle (1-0), Twin Falls (6-2) and Timberline (3-2) at the same tourney.
“I’m sure all of those teams have gotten better,” Bieber said.
It’s taken a while for CdA, though. The Vikings are hitting a paltry .233, but that’s up after they hit a season low in recent weeks. If it wasn’t for senior shortstop Jessica Kraft’s team-leading average (.442), the average would be much lower.
“We’re playing the best ball that we’ve played all season,” Bieber said.
LC’s play has been on an upward trend all season. Leading the way has been the battery tandem of pitcher Lela Work and catcher Jessica Ross.
They were starters on the last LC team to qualify for state in 2006 – when they were freshmen.
Ross is hitting a team-leading .563 and has an .839 slugging percentage.
“Those are crazy numbers,” LC coach Laura Tolzmann said.
As dominating as Ross has been at the plate, Work has been untouchable on the mound. She is 17-1 with a 0.82 ERA. She has 158 strikeouts.
Work’s effectiveness has allowed several younger players to grow through the season.
“My girls are very confident,” Tolzmann said.
•The 4A state tourney begins today at Post Falls High School.
Lakeland had to go the long route to qualify. Now the Hawks are rewarded by playing close to home. The Hawks (18-12) open against Preston at 3.
•Timberlake is making its 10th straight trip to the 3A state tourney, which begins today at Kimberly High School.
Joining Timberlake at state is St. Maries, which upset the Tigers 8-5 in the District I-II final last Saturday. St. Maries (14-9) takes on Marsh Valley (13-11) and Timberlake (20-7) goes against Payette (19-6).
The Coeur d’Alene baseball team returns to state today for the first time since 2001.
The Vikings (21-7) meet District III champ Capital (19-10) at 3:30 at Hawks Memorial Stadium. Lewiston (21-3) takes on Eagle (23-6).
“I like our chances,” CdA coach Nick Rook said.
Bonners Ferry (16-8) surprised by winning the District I-II tourney.
The Badgers open this morning against District V champ American Falls (15-8) at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.
The state track meets begin this afternoon at Boise State University’s Bronco Stadium.
Half of the field events will be held today in all classifications with the balance taking place Friday.
The 5A and 4A running finals are Friday evening and the 3A, 2A and 1A running finals are Saturday.