IDAHO FALLS — The Bonners Ferry softball team made the trip to Idaho Falls this past weekend to compete in the 3A State Softball Tournament. If the Badgers thought the bus ride to Idaho Falls was long and tiring, they had no idea what lay ahead of them once the tournament started. In just two days, the Badgers would play six games on their way to bringing home the second place trophy.
Game 1: Bonners Ferry 3, Fruitland 1
The Badgers opened up the tournament by facing the #2 Seed from District 3, the Fruitland Grizzlies. It wasn’t the hot start the Badgers hoped for offensively, managing just four hits in the game. The game was scoreless heading in to the fifth inning, when the Badgers finally managed to break through and score three runs on three hits. Mackenzie Jackson, Jorryn Bennett, and Sydney Watt all had hits in the inning to provide the Badgers with all the runs they would need. On the defensive side of the ball, Badger Pitcher Kadi Bateman gave up just three hits while striking out 16. The 3-1 victory advanced the Badgers to a second round matchup with Filer, the District 4 champion.
Hits: 1B: M. Jackson, K. Bateman, Jo Bennett, S. Watt
Game 2: Filer 4, Bonners Ferry 2
With round one of the tournament going smoothly, a very tough Filer team waited for the Badgers in round two. This is when things got interesting. In a classic pitchers duel, the Badgers would strike first. Kadi Bateman led of the third inning with a walk, and was quickly driven home by a Jadyn Bennett double. This would be the only run scored through 4 1/2 innings, when the game was suspended due to lightning. With the Badgers up 1-0, both teams left the field to seek shelter. The lightning and thunder was soon joined by a downpour of rain and hail that made the fields at Bonneville High School too muddy to play on.
After about a two-hour delay, the game was resumed at a city park in Idaho Falls. When action resumed, the Badgers picked up one run in the sixth inning when Kassy Skeen led off with a single. Maecie Lierman moved Skeen to second base on a sacrifice bunt, and Kelsey English brough Skeen home with an RBI single. Unfortunately, the Badger defense was unable to hold, allowing two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
As Filer celebrated the walk-off victory, the Badgers were now faced with the possibility of being eliminated from the tournament on the first day. On what had already been a long day, the Badgers had to turn right around and play their third game of the day, a loser-out matchup versus Marsh Valley.
Hits: 1B: K. Bateman, K. Skeen, K. English (2) 2B: K. Bateman, Ja. Bennett,
Game 3: Bonners Ferry 4, Marsh Valley 3 (10)
The Badgers struck first in the third inning when Bateman led off with a single and scored on an RBI triple by Jadyn Bennett. Jorryn Bennett followed with an RBI single. In the fourth inning, Jackson reached first when she was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tori Burt. Bateman then drove in Jackson with and RBI single. The Badgers would hold this lead until the sixth inning, when Marsh Valley would score three runs to tie it up.
The battle would continue into the night as neither team was able to score in the eighth or ninth innings. Just as the Badgers were taking the field to begin the 10th inning, the game was stopped when the field lights turned off due to a 10 p.m. curfew. On a day in which the team had been at the softball fields for more than 15 hours, the Badgers now huddled in total darkness in the pitcher’s circle, hoping the city crews could get the lights turned back on to finish the game. Forty-five minutes later, the game was postponed, to be finished the next morning at 9 a.m.
After a very short stay at the team hotel, a very tired Badger team traveled to Rigby High School to try and keep their tournament hopes alive. Starting the game in the 10th inning, the Badgers took the field first and held Marsh Valley scoreless. In the bottom of the 10th, Sydney Watt scored the game-winning run as she advanced from second base on a passed ball, and scored on an overthrow at third base. It was exactly what the Badgers needed, a quick victory that allowed them to move on to their next opponent. Badger pitcher Kadi Bateman gave up just two hits while walking fourth and striking out 19.
Hits: 1B: Bateman (2), Ja. Bennett, Jo. Bennett (2), K. Skeen (2), 3B - Ja. Bennett
Game 4: Bonners Ferry 8, South Fremont 3
While the Badgers struggled offensively to start the tournament, this would not be the case against South Fremont. In the first inning, Bateman would lead off with a single, followed by a Jadyn Bennett single. Jorryn Bennet would come up next and crush a three run homer to give the Badgers an early lead. Maecie Lierman would score on a wild pitch in the third inning. Singles by English, Jackson and Bateman would lead to 4 more runs in the sixth inning. That would be more than enough runs as the Badger defense held South Fremont to three runs. Bateman allowed five hits while striking out 12. The victory sent the Badgers into a loser-out rematch with Filer.
Hits: 1B: Bateman (2), Ja. Bennett, English, Jackson HR: Jo. Bennett
Game 5: Bonners Ferry 10, Filer 6
With the fatigue of the four previous games beginning to show, the Badgers faced a daunting task of playing a very tough Filer team that had beaten them in a heartbreaker the night before. When Filer jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings, it looked like the Badgers had just run out of gas.
In an incredible display of determination and toughness, the Badgers began to claw their way back into the game. Consecutive singles by Skeen, Watt, Lierman, and English led to three Badger runs. Bateman then came up with English and Burt on base, and hit a towering home run to left center field to give the Badgers a 6-5 lead. The Badgers were not done though, as doubles by Bateman and Jorryn Bennett, and a single by Skeen would lead to 4 more runs and an eventual winning score of 10-6.
Hits: 1B: Ja. Bennett, Skeen, Watt, Lierman (2), English, Jackson, Burt 2B: Bateman, Jo. Bennett HR: Bateman
Game 6: Homedale 8, Bonners Ferry 3
For the championship game, the Badgers would face a familiar foe in softball powerhouse Homedale. Due to the double-elimination format, the Badgers would have to beat Homedale twice to claim the championship. To their credit, the girls on this team would not give up. However, the well-rested and very talented team from Homedale proved too much for the battle worn Badgers.
Homedale jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three innings. Even then, the Badgers would not quit, and scored three runs in the 5th inning on singles by English, Burt and Bateman. In the end, there just wasn’t enough gas left in the tank for the Badgers to defeat an opponent as strong as Homedale.
At the game’s conclusion, not a single Badger player or coach hung their head. Every player, coach, fan and umpire that witnessed this Badger team fight their way through this tournament knew that this Second Place trophy was one to be proud of.
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The Badgers completed the tournament with a record of 4-2. They played an amazing 6 games (45 innings) in two days. The pitcher/catcher duo of Kadi Bateman and Jorryn Bennett combined in all 45 innings, just three innings short of the state record. Bateman threw 673 pitches, and struck out 67 batters, just one shy of the 3A state record. This team did it through difficult circumstances, with little rest. One thing that kept them going was the incredible support of the Badger fans that made the trip to cheer them on. Thank you Badger Fans!