It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
At least that's the good feeling that the Oak St./Bud/LDE Electric coed softball team felt last July in climbing out of the loser bracket with six straight wins for its first-ever Hailey Coed Softball League tournament title over Wicked Spud/Bradley Construction.
The sturdy league's 17th slow-pitch campaign is underway at Hailey's Lions Park and the finalists in last year's championship game clashed for the first time Monday night.
Bradley/Wicked Spud finished better this time around.
Trailing 4-0 after one inning and 5-1 after two frames, Bradley/Wicked Spud (4-0) exploded for six runs in the third and tacked on single runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh for an 11-7 win over defending champion Oak St./Bud (2-2).
It was a two-out rally that got Bradley/Wicked Spud going on a sunny and breezy early-summer evening at the park.
An infield error and single by second baseman Buddy Isom (2 hits) put two runners aboard with two outs for the heart of the Bradley/Wicked Spud batting order. Spud still trailed 5-1, but left fielder Jeff Burrell and rover Nicola Brashears (2 hits, 2 RBI) ripped back-to-back RBI singles and slugging shortstop Josh Jacobson belted a three-run homer for a 6-5 Spud lead.
Megan Mitchell and center fielder Jimmy Bradley (2 hits) kept the rally going with doubles to make it 7-5 in favor of Spud. Oak St./Bud got one back with an unearned run in the home third. Thereafter, cagey Spud pitcher Mike Watson was pretty much unhittable.
Watson, working the inside corner of the plate, scattered six singles and allowed just one run over the final four innings to keep Bud at arm's length. Bud had a final chance with the tying run at the plate and the bases loaded in the seventh, but Watson enticed a ground ball.
Meanwhile, a leadoff double by Chris Hoshaw (3 hits) and RBI single by Isom made it 8-6 in the fourth. Burrell (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI) led off with a homer in the fifth, and Hoshaw clouted a two-out solo homer in the sixth for a 10-6 cushion. Anthony Rooney's leadoff single in the seventh and a two-out RBI single by Brashears produced the final Spud run.
Wicked Spud (17 hits) distributed its hits like a true team, 11 different players contributing safeties. For Bud, T.J. Peterson launched a distant two-run homer in the first for the quick 4-0 Bud lead but two more lift-offs by Peterson came back to earth within the field for outs with runners aboard.
Batters with two hits apiece for Bud (15 hits) were Greg Edwards (double), Sean Harrington (2 runs), Hoss Schmidt, Elisa Tobia and Tina Murphy.
Waiting in the wings to play after the Spud/Bud rematch Monday night was the formidable Uhrig Fencing/Anderson Asphalt squad (3-1). Uhrig made quick work of Power Engineers 20-5 and looked ahead to its pre-Fourth of July fireworks against Wicked Spud Friday, June 29 at 7 p.m.