Friday, May 1, 2009

'Senior Day' sweep sends WRHS to districts

Softball team upends Pocatello 5-0, 7-1

Express Staff Writer

Senior Samantha Engel has completed plenty of softball games during her four-year career in the pitching circle for coach Dale Martin's Wood River High varsity softball.

Until Wednesday, Engel had never pitched and won both ends of a doubleheader. But on "Senior Day," for the Wolverines, Engel got the job done with a tremendous effort at South Valley Sports Complex softball field in Hailey.

Engel (10-9 season, 32-30 career) whiffed 29 Pocatello batters over the course of 14 innings and allowed only six hits, as Wood River swept the visiting Indians 5-0 and 7-1 to square its season record at 10-10. It was Wood River's first doubleheader sweep of 2009.

"Our best two games of the season," said Martin.

At the plate, the Wolverines smashed 20 hits in Wednesday's two games, seven of the extra-base variety. The Hailey defense committed only two errors over the 14 innings against the No. 4-ranked 4A team in the state of Idaho.

"I think we are peaking at the right time," Martin added.

Coach Martin was particularly impressed with his team because Pocatello is the reigning Great Basin Conference champion, having beaten District 4 winner Wood River 7-4 in last May's conference title match-up. Pocatello (25-3) placed third in the State 4A tourney at Twin Falls behind Kuna and Mountain Home. This season, Pocatello swept a doubleheader from Jerome.

But the visiting Indians scrambled to match Wood River's pitching and hitting. Top batters for the twinbill were shortstop Josie Dawson (5-for-7, 3 RBI), senior Angela Coleman (3-for-6) and freshman Kaitana Martinez (3-for-6).

Pocatello couldn't touch Engel (13 K, 0 BB) in her two-hit shutout as the Wolverines opened Wednesday with their 5-0 triumph. Dawson (2 doubles, 3 RBI), Coleman (2 hits, double, RBI) and catcher Alex Lindbloom (double, RBI) led the nine-hit Hailey barrage.

In the 7-1 nightcap victory, sophomore Dawson banged out three hits while sophomore Ali Levy (2 hits, 2 RBI) ripped a triple. Others contributing to the 11-hit attack were freshman Haylee Thompson (2 hits, RBI), Coleman (double, 2 RBI) and Martinez (2 hits, double, 2 RBI).

The wins over Pocatello came on the heels of Tuesday's 2-0 home loss to Burley—a great pitching duel matching Engel and Burley senior Molly Mills. This time, Mills got the best of Engel, baffling the Wolverines with a two-hit shutout.

Still, Engel struck out 13 Burley batters, walked just one and allowed six hits. Burley scored single runs in the first and third innings and the rest of the frames were goose eggs.

But Wednesday's sweep gave Wood River, seeking its first winning season since going 14-10 in 2006, a little head of steam going into the 2009 Great Basin Conference West tournament starting Saturday in Jerome.

Defending GBW champion Wood River (10-10, 2-3 league, 6-4 away) will meet No. 2-seeded Burley (17-7, 4-2) in the first round of the double-elimination league tourney Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jerome. It should be a great match-up between veteran seniors Engel and Mills.

Top-seeded Jerome (15-7, 5-1) will play No. 4 Minico (0-19, 0-5) on another field at Jerome's Forsyth Park at 11 a.m. Saturday. Jerome swept Century of Pocatello 2-1 and 10-8 at home Wednesday and also swept Wood River 8-4 and 4-3 April 16.

Winners of Saturday's first two games will play right away at 1 p.m., with the losers going at it at 1 p.m. to eliminate one of the GBW's four teams.

Tournament finals are Monday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at Jerome. The champion automatically qualifies for the State 4A tournament May 14 at Post Falls, while the GBW runner-up has to win two play-in games next week to make the trip to Post Falls for state.

Mountain Home, seeking its first-ever state title, leads the eight-team Southern Idaho Conference with a 17-4 record (13-0 league) ahead of state champion Kuna (15-11-1, 11-2).

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