State softball: For dominant Bishop Kelly, ‘mission accomplished’ with another title

·5 min read
Provided by Missy Nichols

This story will be updated with the 5A state tournament championship game Saturday night.

About 400 miles from the Treasure Valley, four local teams filled the 5A and 4A softball state championship matchups Saturday.

About 2 1/2 hours from their respective schools, Homedale and Weiser battled for the 3A title.

That meant three state champs from Southwest Idaho were going to make very happy road trips home: Bishop Kelly, a 23-1 winner over Vallivue in 4A; Homedale, a 16-6 winner over Weiser in 3A; and whoever prevailed in Saturday night’s Skyview-Owyhee winner-take-all final in Coeur d’Alene.

No. 1 seed Bishop Kelly, which has won three straight state titles — there was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic — had perhaps the most impressive weekend, winning four games by a combined score of 69-17 to run its winning streak to 20 to end the season. The Knights matched a record they set last year by averaging 17.25 runs per game at state.

“It’s absolutely mission accomplished,” Bishop Kelly coach Missy Nichols told the Idaho Statesman en route back to Boise from North Idaho. “ ... It’s been a pretty incredible group of kids to work with. We lose six seniors to graduation, but they are leaving a legacy. You look at our juniors and sophomores who can hit, our juniors and sophomores who can pitch, we’re not finished.”

5A tournament

No. 1 seed Skyview lost a 10-9 thriller to District Three champion Owyhee on Friday afternoon, making the Hawks take the long way through the double-elimination format to try to defend their state title.

On Saturday, No. 4 seed Owyhee, trying to become the only first-year school to win a state softball championship, scored a 5-3 win over another District Three foe, Timberline, to reach the finals and await the one-loss survivor.

Skyview then managed a 13-11 win over Eagle, a 5-4 win over third-seeded Timberline in dramatic fashion and a 4-3 win over Owyhee to set up a final game with the Storm.

4A tournament: Bishop Kelly dominates

Bishop Kelly (25-4) had a 12-9 win over district rival Vallivue (22-10), the No. 4 seed, in the second round at Post Falls High School on Friday afternoon. Other than that, it was nothing but routs for the Knights, whose offense simply overwhelmed opponents.

They beat No. 8 seed Lakeland 13-3 on Friday. They beat No. 2 seed Twin Falls 21-4 on Saturday. Then came the 23-1 victory over Vallivue to bring BK yet another title. The Knights matched the single-game scoring record they set in last year’s championship game, a 23-7 win over Ridgevue.

“We came into this tournament, especially today, and said to leave your best stuff on the field,” Nichols said. “For our seniors, these are your last at-bats you’re ever going to get as a BK Knight. Every kid can choose at their at-bat to hit. That’s what they did today.”

The Falcons, who fell 6-1 last week to Bishop Kelly in the District Three Tournament final, fought their way back to a state rematch by beating Jerome, Lakeland and Twin Falls. But the Knights scored seven runs in the first and were ahead 13-0 by the end of third in the final game.

Bishop Kelly had 22 hits in the championship, seven of them for extra bases. Senior Ysabella Villegas hit for the cycle in the first four innings, and finished 4-for-4 with four RBIs and five runs scored. She doubled in the first, homered in the second, singled in the third and tripled in the fourth, something Nichols called “unreal.”

“That’s what happens when you hit like we do,” the coach said. “These kids have 71 or 72 home runs this season, and that is unheard of. ... Our whole lineup can hit home runs. You can’t defend against that.”

Like Villegas, senior catcher Kayla Stoker was 4-for-4, and drove in three runs. Leadoff hitter Kaysie Jolley was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.

Senior Pilar Cook was the winning pitcher, allowing just five hits and a run in the sixth inning.

Nichols called them “three girls who had tremendous careers.” She said Stoker “really knows how to be a psychologist for our pitchers,” and said Cook “leads from the mound, she has such a presence.” Nichols noted Jolley’s “ability to lead by example. Offensively, the younger kids learned how to attack from her. They all want to be like Kaysie.”

3A tournament: Homedale takes title

Homedale (24-5-1), the state runner-up last year, and Weiser played three times Saturday at Buhl High School, and the top-seeded Trojans took the long way to their championship, winning 16-6 in the final.

After falling 12-5 to its district rival, Homedale smashed Buhl 11-1 to set up a rematch with No. 3 seed Weiser, with the Trojans needing back-to-back wins to become champs. They trailed Weiser 7-0 at one point and were still behind 10-9 heading to the bottom of the sixth in the first game, when they erupted for 11 runs to claim a 20-10 victory and force a decisive game.

Homedale’s offense was the key again, allowing the Trojans to avenge last season’s back-to-back losses to Filer when they were in the driver’s seat entering the finals.

Homedale, which beat Weiser 3-0 in last week’s district tournament final, scored 77 runs in six state tournament games and had 14 hits in each of the two wins over the Wolverines on Saturday.

Zayne Hall was the star on offense, going 3-for-4 with six RBIs in the championship game, including a grand slam in a 7-run second inning that gave the Trojans a 10-1 lead. She also homered in the first final and drove in four runs. Katie Christoffersen homered in that game as well.