For a team as young as it is, people tend to forget that coach Adam Reynolds' Jerome Tigers are the defending softball champions of the 4A Great Basin Conference. Jerome doesn't have a senior starter.
The Wood River High School softball team, beaten by Jerome 6-0 in last year's GBC championship game, painfully relearned about the Tigers Saturday in a second-round game of the 2011 tournament at Canyon Ridge High in Twin Falls.
Playing with purpose and using crisp defense, No. 3 seeded Jerome (15-7) defeated No. 2 seeded Wood River (11-12) by a 6-1 score and dispatched the Wolverines to the loser bracket of the six-team double elimination tournament.
The Jerome victory, coming on the heels of a 13-3 Tiger success over No. 6 Burley (4-16) earlier Saturday, put Wood River in a big hole. It meant the Wolverines need to win three straight games today, Wednesday just to qualify again for the State 4A tournament.
Wood River plays No. 5 Minico (6-18) today at 1 p.m. The winner advances directly to play No. 1 Canyon Ridge (19-4) at 3 p.m., and that winner meets the loser of Twin Falls-Jerome at 5 p.m. today.
But on Saturday, which alternated between rainy and dry, Wood River's defense came up a little shy against Jerome.
The Tigers started five juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen but at times seemed more composed and determined than Wood River, with its five senior starters.
After an 11-minute rain delay in the fourth, Jerome led 2-1 and it seemed the game would go down to the wire. But the Wolverines committed three errors and coughed up three unearned runs in Jerome's four-run fifth. At the plate, Wood River managed only one hit in the final three innings—and four for entire game.
Credit Jerome junior pitcher Colby Argyle (116 pitches, 0 earned runs, 2 BB, 4 K). She was on her game in the circle and Wood River stranded four runners in scoring position. Almost as good was Hailey senior Ali Levy (92 pitches, 2 earned runs, 8 hits, 1 BB, 2 K).
Hailey senior third baseman Taylor Gove (2 hits, 1 RBI) was the lone bright spot for the offense. Gove (4 assists) and freshman second baseman Mercedes Powell (2 assists, 6 putouts) were the top performers on defense as well.