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Idaho softball: Coeur d’Alene keeps state title hopes alive

NAMPA, Idaho – The Coeur d’Alene softball team’s high-powered offense never showed up on the first day of the 5A State tournament.

Fortunately for the Vikings, sophomore pitcher Breana Burke was at the top of her game. Burke allowed just three runs and struck out 26 batters Friday as the Vikings kept their championship hopes alive by winning two out of three games at Skyview Softball Complex.

Coeur d’Alene (22-4) plays Boise in a 9 a.m. elimination game today, the first of four consecutive games the Vikings must win to claim the state championship.

“Breanna was outstanding,” Coeur d’Alene coach Larry Bieber said. “We didn’t get her many runs, but it was an amazing performance on her part.”

In the third and final game of the day, the Vikings scratched out a 3-2 win over Lake City – remaining unbeaten versus their Inland Empire League rivals – in a thriller that came down to the final play.

Sydni Parker’s speed on the base paths produced a Coeur d’Alene run in the first, and the Vikings tacked on two more on a squeeze play and throwing error in the fourth.

Lake City went scoreless for 6 2/3 innings, but Vanessa Shippy and JaeCie Wilson reached with two outs in the seventh and scored on Hailey Jackson’s two-run hit. Burke, however, cut off a throw to the plate and caught Jackson in a rundown between second and third to end the game.

“Pretty exciting,” Bieber said. “It was a heads-up play, and a heck of a way to end the ballgame.”

Burke was sharp from the outset Friday, firing seven shutout innings in a 2-0 win over Boise. She struck out seven and was backed by Abby Howard’s RBI single and Kayla Albertson’s solo homer.

The CdA ace was even better in the second game, fanning 12 while allowing just four hits and no earned runs. But Rocky Mountain picked up an unearned run in the third, and pitcher Hayden McKenny made it stand for a 1-0 win.

Burke outdueled Lake City senior Jordyn McCracken in the nightcap to keep the Vikings alive, but Bieber knows his ace pitcher will need more run support if they are to make a serious run at the title.

“If we swing the bats, we are going to be in business,” he said. “I think we can do it. We did it in 1998.”

The thrilling finish of Friday’s finally was nothing new for Lake City (20-8), which split its first two games in dramatic fashion.

In the opener versus Eagle, the Timberwolves blew an 8-5 lead in the seventh as Eagle rallied for five runs and a stunning 10-8 victory. Lake City freshman Bailey Cavanagh had a home run and a double during a wild game that featured a combined 23 hits and nine errors.

The Timberwolves traded their late-inning heartbreak for jubilation in the second game, mounting a remarkable rally to beat Skyline.

The Lake City bats were silent for six innings, but McCracken kept the T-Wolves within striking distance. Down 4-0 entering the seventh, Lake City ripped off 14 runs on 13 hits to earn a 14-4 victory.

Dakota Wilson hit a two-run homer, while Cavanagh and McCracken each had two hits in the seventh inning alone. Skyline changed pitchers twice, but could not stem the tide. The Grizzlies also fueled the rally by committing two errors throwing multiple wild pitches.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Lake City coach Laura Tolzmann said of the rally. “It was an awesome team performance. We came out and wanted it, and the softball gods were with us.”

3A

Timberlake lost to Sugar-Salem 12-8 and Buhl 4-1 and was eliminated from the tournament at West Park Complex in Nampa.

2A

St. Maries saw its season end after falling to New Plymouth 16-0 and West Jefferson 15-2 at Nampa.