Slow-pitch softball pitchers in the Wood River Valley have been scratching their heads and struggling with limited success to find ways to retire Kenny Nelson when the Hailey slugger comes up to plate.
Last weekend at West Ketchum Coliseum, a series of pitchers found it impossible to retire Nelson, the Lefty’s Bar & Grill shortstop and run producer par excellence.
Nelson batted a perfect 10-for-10 with eight extra-base hits including three homers leading top-seeded Lefty’s (11-2 season) to three wins in three games and the championship of the five-team Ketchum Coed Softball League city tournament.
He went 4-for-4 with 5 RBI including a crushed two-out, two-run homer in his team’s seven-run fourth as Lefty’s rallied past No. 2-seeded Casino (9-5) by a 23-16 score in Saturday’s championship game on the Atkinson Park diamond.
Lefty’s, the 2010 league tournament champion and last year’s Ketchum runner-up, trailed 9-4 and 15-9 before batting around with the seven-run explosion capped by Nelson’s homer from the No. 5 spot in a potent batting order.
Important Lefty’s hits in the big inning were a two-run double by third baseman Anthony Anderson (3-for-4, 3 RBI) and a two-run single by tournament leading hitter Wendy Speth (3-for-4, 3 RBI and a .667 average in Lefty’s 3 games).
All those runs came with two outs after Lefty’s leadoff hitter Bryan Burrell (4-for-4, 3 runs, .833 tourney average) drew a two-out walk that filled the bases for Anderson. Having rattled the Casino, Lefty’s scored seven more runs in its final two at-bats, six unearned.
Lefty’s (.531 team batting average, 19.7 runs per game) got contributions from its entire roster in the title game.
That included Dave Hausmann (4-for-4, 3 runs, .889 tourney average), Buff Rixon (3-for-4, 2 RBI), Tony Mallane (2-for-2, 4 innings pitched) and pitching closer Anderson, who allowed just one run and four hits in three innings of work.
It was the second straight MVP honor for Nelson, who has 26 hits in 30 trips over the last two tournaments. But Saturday’s first-place result was more satisfying for him than last year’s second-place result.
Judged female tournament MVP was Casino first baseman Kathy Baker (.636). Casino’s lightning-fast Tom Moreland was the top tournament hitter (.900, 10 runs) including a 4-for-4, 4 runs, 3 RBI effort in the championship game.
Casino had 22 hits compared to Lefty’s 26 in the finale, but the silver medalists just ran out of runs after their 26-4 semi-final rout of KECH and their 15 runs in the first four title-game frames against Lefty’s.
Pitcher Craig Morse (3-for-3, 5 RBI) and Lisa Valdama (3 hits) led the Casino at the title game dish. Those with two hits for the Casino (.496 team batting, 13.5 runs per game) were Mark Belanger, Nicole Bozek, Brenda Johnson, Matt Christian and Jamie Hjort.
In an earlier tournament game, Lefty’s (23 hits) run-ruled Casino 17-2 with Anderson ripping four singles and Speth going 4-for-4. Lefty’s opened up winning 19-2 over Idaho Bioscience. In that one Nelson fell just a single shy of hitting for the cycle and Burrell went 4-for-4.
Finishing in third place was No. 5-seeded KECH (5-9). Three of KECH’s four games were decided by a single run, two of them ending up as wins.
One of the craziest games was Friday evening’s tournament opener, a 25-24 Idaho Bioscience nailbiter over KECH. Idaho Bioscience (4-9) belted out 25 hits in five at-bats and carried a 25-15 lead over KECH into the sixth inning. But KECH scored nine runs on 10 hits to just fall short 25-24.
Pat Woodbrey, Annie Kelley and Pat McKain each had four hits for Bioscience, while Levi Perryman (2 triples, double) and Trent Hoskins (double, triple, 3 runs) enjoyed big games. KECH clean-up hitter Kerstin Flavin went 5-for-5. Don Marchant added five hits and Karly Maratea four.
KECH (62 runs in 4 games) bounced back with a 14-13 victory over Elevate (4-8). Rod Watson went 5-for-5 including the seventh-inning RBI double that plated Maratea with the eventual winner. Elevate’s Anders Pedersen went 4-for-4.
Getting revenge for its narrow loss in the opener, KECH ousted Idaho Bioscience 19-18 as Jaime Rivetts drove home Shannon Flavin (3-for-3, 2 runs) with the walk-off game winner.
Longtime local softball stud Rod Watson (3 hits, 3 runs) and kindergarten teacher Kerstin Flavin (3 hits, 2 runs) sparked KECH’s offense, as they did all tournament. Watson (14-for-16, .875, 11 runs) and Flavin (12-for-17, .706, 7 runs) might have qualified for tournament awards if KECH had managed to make the title contest.
Despite its close loss, Idaho Bioscience (15.3 runs per game) was led by Woodbrey (3 hits, HR, triple, 4 runs), Perryman (3 hits, triple, double, 3 runs), McKain (4 hits, 2 doubles, 3 runs) and Chad Martin (4-for-4).
Not playing in the two-day city tournament were regular-season league champion Mikie’s Kids (10-0), competing last weekend in a Salmon meet, and Redfish Technology.