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Lake City softball players celebrate their 2011 Idaho State 5A softball championship. (Bruce Twitchell / Special to The Spokesman-Review)

Lake City girls enjoy perfect finish in softball

Near perfection met perfection Saturday afternoon.

Lake City sophomore pitcher Casey Stangel no-hit Timberline for 6 2/3 innings as the Timberwolves shut out the Wolves of Boise 2-0 in the State 5A softball tournament championship game that started at Post Falls and ended at Lake City.

Stangel handcuffed Timberline, coming within an out of a no-hitter. But what was most important to her was the ending – LC finished the season 26-0.

“It’s OK,” Stangel said. “I didn’t need a no-hitter. It’s a team win.”

In the game for third place, Centennial handled Mountain View 9-4. In the game for fourth, Rocky Mountain outlasted Coeur d’Alene 5-3 in eight innings.

Lake City 2, Timberline 0: The game started at Post Falls, but a deluge hit and rendered the field unplayable with LC ahead 1-0 and at bat in the bottom of the second.

Officials called Idaho High School Activities executive director John Billetz, asking if the game could be moved to LC. For whatever reason, the rain seemingly stopped and hung over Post Falls before taking a left turn and heading north.

LC parents scrambled, preparing the field quickly. The game resumed after a 57-minute delay.

Stangel, who struck out Timberline in order in the first inning, picked up where she left off. She finished with 15 strikeouts and two walks.

Stangel (25-0) struck out the first two batters in the seventh before Kendra Nagy held out her bat on a 1-2 count and punched the ball past a ranging Vanessa Shippy at second base for a hit.

“I didn’t know I had a no-hitter (going into the seventh),” Stangel said. “The first I heard about it was when I heard somebody from the bleachers yell, ‘There goes the no-hitter.’”

Prior to the hit, Timberline (25-3) had just one base runner, coming when Nagy reached on a walk to open the second. In fact, just one ball had reached the outfield before Nagy’s hit.

Stangel said she wasn’t bothered by the hit, but she did allow her second walk to the next batter, and a throwing error gave Timberline runners at third and first with two outs. But Stangel quickly got to a 0-2 count on the final batter before ending the game with a strikeout.

“I had all the confidence in the world that this group would come through,” LC coach Laura Tolzmann said.

Timberline coach David Goodwin wasn’t surprised by Stangel’s performance.

“We’ve faced her before,” Goodwin said.

LC beat Timberline early last season and then lost to Timberline at state four days after Stangel had an emergency appendectomy.

“She clearly had all of her pitches going,” Goodwin said. “We anticipated a great game from her and she didn’t disappoint.”

LC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning as a light rain started to fall early before turning to a drizzle.

Senior Becky Short led off with a double and scored on an RBI fielder’s choice from Stangel. LC got two hits in the first and Timberline senior pitcher Erin Keen settled down to throw four innings of no-hit ball before the T-Wolves added an insurance run in the sixth.

Short said she and LC’s other senior, Avalon Leddy, did a rain dance before the game.

“We said it has to rain today, because that’s when se play the best,” Short said. “The state title is completely beyond comprehension.”

Tolzmann’s excitement started to build in the seventh.

“It doesn’t seem real,” she said. “My heart started racing in the seventh. I knew it was going to be a real good championship game.”

The way it ended for LC, on its home field, made for an even more special ending.

“There’s no place like home,” Stangel said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. You have the expectation all year, but I don’t think the smile is coming off my face for a while.”

Rocky Mountain 8, Coeur d’Alene 5: Neither team could take advantage of opportunities in the first seven innings, necessitating a tiebreaker inning.

That’s when the action heated up. The Grizzlies (19-10) scored five runs on five hits, two coming in on a triple by Devon Murphy as Rocky Mountain sent 10 to the plate.

CdA (16-9) didn’t go down quietly. Randy Spencer had a run-scoring single, Kyeli Parker knocked in a run with a double and Elli Tindall had a run-scoring double. Twice the tying run came to the plate before Grizzlies pitcher B.K. Kopczynski coaxed a popout and strikeout to end the game.