The man who has done much to develop Wood River High School softball into one of the region's best programs was honored Saturday between games of a Great Basin Conference doubleheader in Hailey.
Coach Dale Martin was touched to have one of his seniors, Hunter Thompson, dedicate South Valley Sports Complex softball field in his name as part of her senior project. Thompson designed a sign that will be installed on top of the current scoreboard at the field.
Martin has compiled a 79-98 record in seven seasons as Wood River's head softball coach and has guided Wolverine teams to the state tournament in four of those years. Prior to that, Martin was assistant coach to Chris Cey for seven springs from 1998-2004.
So, Martin, 72, has been involved with WRHS softball for 14 of its 20 seasons. South Valley Sports Complex softball field debuted in 1997, so Martin's work has been integral to the field's development in his 14 years with the program.
Due to quirky spring weather, Wood River's current team has played only three of its 15 games at home this season, but the Hailey girls should get a good dose of Martin Field with four home games scheduled over the next six days.
Wood River (7-8, 6-2 league) hosts the defending GBC champion Jerome Tigers (10-6, 6-5) today, Wednesday at 4 p.m. to complete a three-game season series that began with a 10-8 and 17-8 Wolverine sweep on the Jerome diamond April 1.
This weekend, the Wolverines play league-leading Canyon Ridge (15-3, 10-2) in a three-game series that will go a long way to settling the top seed and host site for the six-school Great Basin Conference tourney starting Saturday, May 7.
Wood River visits Canyon Ridge Friday at 4:30 p.m. and then hosts the Riverhawks Saturday, April 30 for a 12 noon doubleheader at Martin Field. Next Tuesday, May 3, the Wolverines will host their "Senior Night" for a 4 p.m. single game against the improving Minico Spartans (3-13, 0-9 league).
Minico dropped three games to Jerome last weekend but they were all competitive by 6-4, 6-1 and 2-1 scores. Meantime, Canyon Ridge was having its way with Burley (3-12, 1-11) by scores of 14-4, 14-4 and 9-4. As it stands now, Wood River is looking to open its tournament quest against either Burley or Minico in the May 7 opener.
Weekend series with Twin
If last weekend's three-game series with Twin Falls is any indication, Wood River will have to firm up its defense to contend for one of the two automatic State 4A tournament berths from the Basin in 2011.
Twin Falls won two of the three games by scores of 7-4 and 23-7, while the Wolverines captured a dramatic 7-6 come-from-behind victory in Saturday's twinbill opener on the Hailey diamond—just prior to the Martin Field dedication fete.
Martin said, "We did some good things but made too many mistakes and gave them 28 unearned runs (out of 36 in 3 games). Twin Falls has good pitching and you have to make plays. I'm pleased with where we are and how we're playing—except for that one inning."
That "one inning" was a 19-run Twin Falls fifth in Saturday's 23-7 Bruins nightcap win. Wood River ended up making nine errors in that one. A highlight was a solo homer by Devan Atkinson. Hailey pitcher Ali Levy (6-6, 16-20 career) yielded only three earned runs.
Friday at Twin Falls, four Wolverine errors accounted for six unearned runs in the 7-4 Bruins triumph. Other than the miscues, it was a decent pitching duel between Levy (6 hits, 1 earned run, 2 K, 3 BB) and Jaquelyn Corr (2 hits, 9 K, 9 BB). Josie Dawson (2 hits, double, 3 RBI) led WRHS hitting.
What Wood River will remember about the weekend is Saturday's 7-6 nailbiter.
The Wolverines trailed 6-1 in the home fifth but rallied with two runs in the fifth and four huge runs in the home seventh—while Levy (8 hits, 4 K, 3 BB) held the Bruins scoreless in the sixth and seventh.
"Great game and comeback," said Martin. "Levy pitched well, and Mercedes Powell hit a key double in the bottom of the seventh."
Wood River hitting leaders included Powell (2 hits, 4 RBI), Shelby Cooper and Kori Paradis. Josie Dawson doubled, drove home a run and scored the winning marker for the Wolverines (130 runs offense season, 8.7, 119 defense, 7.9).