AMERICAN FALLS — The Snake River Lady Panthers had one last chance at punching their ticket to the state tournament on Saturday afternoon as they squared off with Buhl in the state play in game. Unfortunately for the girls in black and their large contingent of fans, that goal failed to come to fruition as Buhl ended Snake Rivers season with a 15-8 defeat.
"We didn't play our cleanest game of the year," Snake River head coach Kay Martin said. "I don't want to take anything away from Buhl, they made the plays when they had to and we didn't but this was a very hard way to end the season."
After losing the coin toss, Snake River came to bat in the top of the first inning where they promptly placed the first two batters on base with a single by Kara Polatis and a hit batter by Katie Ogden. Both runners wound up being stranded however in an ominous beginning to the ball game.
Buhl took the early lead in the bottom half of the frame when their three hitter drove a ball deep into the left-centerfield gap for what proved to be a 2-run homer.
"If we could have gotten a couple of those runs in the first inning we wouldn't have been playing from behind for the entire game," Coach Martin said. "I think that we might have relaxed a little bit and the outcome could have been different."
Indeed, Snake River were squarely behind the eight ball for the entirety of the game but as they have all season long, they battled from behind tying the game at 4-4 with a four run fourth inning as Ashlynn Wood, Raegan Martin, Cassie Albertson and Billie Gibson each picked up singles in an inning which every batter in the line up made a plate appearance.
Momentum from that big frame failed to transition to the field however as Buhl took advantage of a pair of Snake River fielding miscues in the home half of the fourth inning, en route to a four run inning of their own to stretch the lead to 8-4.
"We just didn't play a descent game," Coach Martin said. "I guess we will get em next year."
Buhl eventually stretched the lead to 15-6 but Snake River had one last push in them as they scratched out a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning, all of which came with two outs in the ball game.
Sierra VanOrden ignited the rally with a single to right. Billie Gibson followed with her second hit of the ball game which scored VanOrden. Polatis and Ogden followed with hits of their own but that was it for the Snake River offense as the short stop sealed the win with a put out at second base for the third out.
"We struggled a bit adjusting to their pitcher to start the game and we were looking for the big hit other than just making solid contact," Coach Martin said. "The last half of the game and there in the seventh we started swinging the bat a little better but it just wasn't enough."
Snake River finishes the season with a 16-9 record and will return all but two, Macy Martin and Cassie Albertson for next years installment of Snake River softball.
BUHL 15, SNAKE RIVER 8
Snake River 000 402 2 - 8 11 7
Buhl 220 416 x - 15 12 1
Snake River - Kara Polatis 2-5, Katie Ogden 2-2, Macy Martin 1-3 RBI, Ashlynn Wood 1-4, Raegan Martin 2-4 SB, Sierra Van Orden 1-1 R, Billie Gibson 2-4 2RBI; pitching - Erica Ramirez (L) 4IP 8R 8H 2K 4BB 1WP, Alyssa Delaney 1 1/3IP 5R 2H 0K 2BB 1HP 1WP, Raegan Martin 2/3IP 2R 2H 1K 1BB.
Buhl - Kendyl Hamilton 4-4 HR 3B 2B 4R 5RBI, Tyana Weaver 2-4 3RBI, Chelsea Cress 2-2 2R, Casey Gabandi 1-3 2R; pitching - Morgan Pearson (W) 7IP 8R 12H 5K 4BB 1HP 2WP.