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Idaho Enterprise

Lady Dragons take second at State Softball

May 22, 2024 10:07AM ● By Allison Eliason

The Lady Dragons came in as runners up at this year's state tournament, after an undefeated season.

The Lady Dragon softball team returned from the IHSAA state tournament with some new hardware to add to their collection, earning the runner up placing on Saturday, May 18.  “It sure isn’t the place we were hoping to come home with,” said Head Coach Bri Adams, “but we are so proud with how hard our girls fought and all they have accomplished this season.  A 27-2-1 record is nothing to be disappointed about and if anything, we are going to let this motivate us for next year!”

Malad opened their tournament games by taking on the Salmon Savages on Thursday, May 16.  The Lady Dragons had a big first inning, putting up nine runs to the Savages zero.  Adley Kimberling started the scoring as she hit a home run with the bases loaded, batting in Bostyn Combs, Logan Maroney, and Hallie Horlsey.  Brylee Oglesbee next hit a fly ball that was caught for the first out, but not before Kaitlyn Pickett put across another run.  Riglee Peterson followed with a double on a line drive to left field to send in Aubrey Shulz and Teagan Daniels before she was punched in off a home run by Bostyn Combs.

Up 9-0, the Lady Dragon defense was quick to force three outs, Liddia Gonzalez pitching three consecutive strikeouts.  Back on offense they added another six runs to put them up 15-0.  Salmon battled back in the third inning to put up two runs and then held Malad to only two runs as well.  But in the bottom of the ninth, the Lady Dragons came out on fire, racking up another nine runs.

Seeing this as a great opportunity to get some of her underclassmen experience in a state softball game, Coach Adams subbed out nearly her entire starting team in the final inning of the game.  The fresh players didn’t let up a bit as they helped take their team to a 26-2 win over the Savages.

Advancing to the next round, the Lady Dragons took on an all too familiar opponent- the Declo Hornets.  Declo took the lead as they put up one run in the first inning, Malad tying it up in the bottom of the second inning.  After holding them scoreless again in the third inning, the Lady Dragons took the lead after Logan Maroney hit a single line drive to right field to send in Combs.  Horsley followed with another single to punch in Hadley Summers, courtesy runner for Maroney.  

Horsley made her way around the bases, taking advantage of wild pitches to score a fourth run for Malad.  Pickett added a final run for the inning to make it 5-1.

The Lady Dragons extended their lead to 9-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Getting base hits right off the bat, Peterson, Combs and Summers added scoring runs before Malad even had their first out of the inning.  Daniels stepped up to the plate to hit a single to center field to punch in Horsley and Pickett to end the inning.

Declo still had some fight in them, adding ten runs to their score in the fifth in sixth innings, but Malad held strong to keep their lead and ultimately win 14-11.

In the semi-final round of the tournament, the Lady Dragons went up against the Cole Valley Chargers, the team they knew would be their greatest challenge.  Just as they suspected, the Chargers came out ready to play, taking an early lead in the first inning, 3-0.  After adding another run in the top of the second, Malad answered with four runs to tie the game before taking the lead in the bottom of the fourth.  

Down by one run in the bottom of the sixth, Maroney found her way on base after getting hit by the pitch.  Horsley, next to bat, battled it out for the Lady Dragons behind the plate.  With the count 3-2 and a single pitch to decide the at bat, Horsley slammed the hit over the fence for a home run to put Malad over Cole Valley by one run.  The Chargers forced two final outs of the inning before the Lady Dragons could score again.  

The defense took the field, knowing that if they could keep them from scoring, Malad would claim the win.  Peterson forced the first out from the mound, winning the count with a final strike rather than walking the batter.  Horsley got the out at first plate after the assist from second baseman Oglesbee.  With a runner on third base and in scoring position, Peterson put an end to the inning with a final strikeout, ending the 9-8.

The victory landed the Lady Dragons in the championship game to face the winner of the Cole Valley vs New Plymouth.  Winning 10-5, Cole Valley punched their ticket for the championship game as well.

It was nothing short of a battle for the Lady Dragons and they struggled to hit against the Chargers in their second matchup of the tournament.  Despite scoring early on in the first inning, Malad couldn’t seem to get in the groove from behind the plate, popping it up to be caught, line driving it to the defense or simply striking out.  And to make matters worse, Cole Valley was connecting with the pitches, eventually winning the game, 2-8.

With both teams having one loss in the tournament, they were forced to play an additional championship game.  Hot and exhausted, the two teams took to the field late Saturday afternoon to decide a champion for the tournament.  It looked like the Chargers might take it away again as they were up 7-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning.  

But Malad was far from giving up.  They came into the fifth inning determined to get runs, and that is just what they did.  Slowly but surely, they narrowed the gap on the scoreboard as they put up two runs in fifth as Maroney hit a home run to bat in Combs as well.  In the sixth, Shulz worked her way around the bases to bring them 5-7.  In the seventh, Horsley scored as Daniels hit a single to left field before scoring the tying run off a hit by Oglesbee to left field, bringing it 7-7.

While the MHS offense stepped up in a big way, the defense tightened up their play to hold the Chargers scoreless in the final innings.  Peterson strung together three strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth, even after nearly an hour delay of game after their pitcher went down at first base.  Keeping things tight in the sixth inning, Horlsey forced the first out after the across the field from Pickett on third.  Catcher Maroney not only got the out but prevented the Chargers from scoring as she tagged the runner out advancing to home after Combs threw it in from center field.  Oglesbee forced the final out at second base after Peterson picked up the bunt hit to throw it behind her.  Peterson went three for three in the seventh inning to strike out the Cole Valley batters.

Moving into extra innings, the Lady Dragons were unable to put across any runs, sending the defense to the field in hopes of holding Cole Valley as they had done in the previous three innings.  With a runner placed on second, the Chargers hit a sacrifice bunt to advance their runner to third.  The next batter hit a pop fly to the infield, with Shulz making a diving catch for the out.  But just as the catch was made, the runner on third came in for the game ending run.  

With the third base umpire watching the catch and no other ump in position to see, it was uncertain if the runner tagged up after the catch and before heading to home plate.  Despite discussing the play, the officials called the run legitimate, giving Cole Valley the game winning lead, 8-7.

“It is a frustrating loss to say the least.  But we couldn’t be more proud of the way these girls fought.  They never counted themselves out and never once thought about giving up.  They played with class and dignity, something that our opponents didn’t always show.  I have never heard our dugout so loud as they cheered each other and supported in whatever way they could.

“This season has been amazing, with girls moving through injuries, stepping into different roles and positions.  They have done everything we have asked of them.  I really have to give credit to my amazing staff- Aysha Maddox, Arlene Shulz, and Rachel Green.  They have done so much to help make this team what it is.”

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