It's really anybody's championship to win or to lose when the Great Basin Conference West conducts its state-qualifying 4A softball double elimination tournament Saturday, May 3 and Monday, May 5.
Wood River High coach Dale Martin feels his Wolverines (10-11, 2-3 league) are peaking at the right time and have as good a chance as rivals Jerome, Minico or Burley to take the district title and its automatic trip to the State 4A meet.
The Wolverines have won five of their last eight games including last Thursday's huge 5-3 home league win over Jerome and Saturday's 11-0 and 13-4 non-conference doubleheader sweep over the McCall-Donnelly Vandals, in Caldwell.
Hailey senior "Iron Arm" pitcher Hannah Gove (8-7) is cooking on all cylinders and junior righthander Samantha Engel (2-4) is back in the circle after battling knee and ankle injuries in the last month. Best of all, Wood River batters are starting to round into form.
A good example was Thursday's 5-3 home win over Jerome, a team that had buried the Wolverines 10-1 back on March 12 in Jerome. This time, Wood River (8 hits) delivered clutch hits and rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the second, two in the fourth.
"We hit the ball well. It's the first time in four years that we didn't have a strikeout in a game," said Martin.
Defensively, Gove (101 pitches, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 7 K, 1 BB) blanked Jerome each of the final four frames to nail down the win. Offensively on Wood River's "Senior Night," seven of nine Wolverines hit safely spearheaded by Alex Lindbloom (2 hits, double).
The biggest hits came with two outs in the second after senior Tasha Karst led off with a single. Taylor Gove (2 runs) produced a two-out RBI single followed by RBI singles by senior KD Pruett and Lindbloom.
In the fourth, Taylor Gove reached on an error and Lindbloom ripped a run-scoring double. Other hitters were Hannah Gove (double), Angela Coleman and Lacie Anderson.
"That's what softball is all about, Martin said. "The kids have never quit this year."
As expected, Twin Falls senior pitcher Amber Petersen (14-0) dominated Wood River in 10-0 and 13-1 run-rule victories Friday on the Hailey diamond. Petersen threw a no hitter with 12 K in the first game and a four-hitter (9 K) in the second.
"We were completely overmatched in both games," said Martin, whose team gave up 20 hits and 23 runs to Twin (20-1).
Playing its fourth and fifth games in three days Saturday, at Caldwell, Wood River turned it around and pounded out 21 hits in the 11-0 and 13-4 doubleheader sweep over McCall.
Hannah Gove (5-for-8, 3 doubles, 7 RBI) was particularly strong at the plate giving Wood River its third twinbill sweep of the 2008 season. Gove (6 K) also tossed a tidy two-hitter in the opener. In the nightcap, Engel (9 K) got her first win in a month with a six-hitter.
The hitters in Game One were Hannah Gove (3-for-4, 2 doubles, 4 RBI), Angela Coleman (2 hits), Karst (2 hits, 2 RBI), Lindbloom (3 runs) and Anderson (2 RBI).
In the McCall nightcap Ali Levy (2 hits, 2 RBI) came up from the junior varsity and helped the attack. So did Hannah Gove (2 hits, 3 RBI), Engel (2 RBI, 2 runs), Karst (2 hits) and Dani Stone (2 runs).
The Wolverines wrap up their regular season Thursday, May 1 at defending league champ Burley (5-11, 1-4 league). Burley played at Pocatello Tuesday after losing 4-2 at home to Minico last Thursday.
Jerome (9-12, 3-2 league) coming off its 10-0 and 18-1 home sweep of Bonneville Saturday was hosting Minico of Rupert (8-14, 4-1) Tuesday to determine the top seed and host site for this weekend's league tourney. If Minico won Tuesday and gained revenge for its 3-0 home loss to Jerome April 11, the Spartans will host the tournament starting Saturday.
Hailey nine tangles with Minico Thursday
The post-season has arrived for the Wood River High School baseball team, which has drawn a tough assignment in its Great Basin Conference West opening round game Thursday, May 1 at Rupert.
Fourth-seeded Wood River (6-17, 0-6 league) carries an eight-game losing skid into its 5 p.m. game against the top-seeded defending Great Basin West champ Minico Spartans. Minico was 21-1 and rode a 21-game win streak into its grudge match Tuesday at Twin Falls.
Thursday's other first-round Great Basin West game matches last year's state qualifier Jerome (13-9, 3-3) and Burley (8-12, 3-3). The winners of Minico-Wood River and Jerome-Burley will play Saturday, May 3 at 11 a.m. at the highest seed, and the losers will clash at the same time.
Wood River scored some runs but came up short last weekend during the fifth annual Tony Hansen eight-team tournament at Preston. The Wolverines lost to Bear Lake 12-8, to Rigby 13-8 and to eventual champion Highland of Pocatello by a 5-1 score.
Highland won the Preston tournament for the second straight year Saturday with a 12-11 victory over Jerome. In third place was Rigby with a 4-3 win over host Preston and 13-3 decision over two-time defending State 3A champ Bear Lake.
In its opening game against Bear Lake Friday, Wood River erased a 5-2 Bears lead and a six-run fifth as Michale Brunker delivered a three-run double and Pat Patterson added a three-run triple. But Bear Lake responded with seven runs in the final inning against losing pitcher Patterson (2-6).
With Trent Seamons (2-4) on the hill against Rigby, Wood River built a 6-1 lead. Seamons and Danny Kramer belted RBI doubles, Bryan Bray rocked a three-run bases-loaded double and Patterson chipped in with an RBI double. But Rigby's bats came alive with two runs in the fourth, five in the fifth and five more in the sixth to win 13-8.
Sean Bunce pitched a strong game and got some nice relief from Jake Freeman in Saturday's 5-1 loss to Highland. Wood River hitters just couldn't get their bats on the ball and had 10 strikeouts.
Coach Matt Nelson said, "We didn't play badly and a lot of good things were happening. After all the struggles we've had this season it was nice and encouraging to see them go out and play and hit the ball hard."