The day began with tense anticipation and then jubilation, but was followed by frustration, a moment of panic and ended with disappointment for the Lewiston High School softball team.
The Bengals went 1-1 on Tuesday in the Class 5A district tournament at Airport Park, beating Coeur d’Alene 4-2 on Taryn Barney’s walk-off home run before a late rally fell short in a 9-8 loss to Post Falls in the tournament title game.
Now, Lewiston, the regular-season champion and tournament’s No. 1 seed, must beat Lake City in Thursday’s second-place game and follow that with a victory in a play-in game to qualify for State.
The Bengals (20-6) haven’t been to State since 2008.
“From here on out, they’re going to want it, we want it, and hopefully we want it more,” Lewiston coach Kristin Delp said.
The Bengals were building a late rally when the title game came to a halt.
Taryn Barney led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run, cutting Post Falls’ lead to 9-6. After Jenika Ortiz was hit by a pitch and Tori Purington walked, Kate Banks doubled to the fence in center field, scoring both runners and making it 9-8 with no outs.
But on the play, Trojans center fielder Kaycie Barber lay motionless against the outfield fence. She leapt to try to catch Banks’ hit on the fly and collided with the pole connecting sections of the chain-link fence. Spectators and players near Barber hastily waved for help, and Barber was tended to for a few minutes before first responders arrived on the scene.
After several minutes, Barber was transported off the field by firetruck. She raised her arms as she was being lifted into the vehicle. Post Falls coach Holly Gleaves said Barber “could feel her hands and her feet, she could move everything, and it appears like everything’s good.”
The scary moment and long pause impeded the Bengals’ momentum. The next batter lined out to Post Falls’ pitcher, who alertly doubled off the runner at second base, and the final out was made via a routine ground ball.
“I think that Post Falls was really emotional from that, in a good way. They were rallying around it,” Delp said. “We talked, we had a game plan, we just didn’t deliver. It was just mental errors at the end that cost us and unfortunately, something like that’s a momentum killer.”
With the championship, Post Falls (15-5) snapped Lake City’s run of four consecutive Inland Empire League tournament titles. The championship earned the Trojans a trip to State, where they’ll open against the second-place team from the Southern Idaho Conference on May 21 at Mountain View High School in Meridian.
The team sent an uplifting video message to Barber as they celebrated the win. Gleaves said his players didn’t need much motivation to regroup after her injury.
“These are pretty tough competitors,” Gleaves said. “I just brought them in briefly and said, ‘First things first, Kaycie’s fine. She didn’t want to come out of the game. She wanted to keep playing. But since she had to, she said win this thing for me.’”
Post Falls jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Alyssa Krause’s first-inning grand slam. Lewiston answered with two runs in the home half of the first and got another run in the third to make it 4-3.
Both teams scored twice in the fifth to maintain the margin. Post Falls plated three more in the seventh to stake a 9-5 lead.
The Bengals also had to rally to beat Coeur d’Alene.
The game was tied at 1 through seven innings, going to the international tiebreaker rule with each team having a runner on second base to start each extra inning. Katelyn Boyer scored from second on Makiya McPhedran’s infield single in the top of the eighth, putting the Vikings up 2-1.
Karli Taylor started on second to start Lewiston’s half of the inning, and she advanced to third on Loryn Barney’s bunt single. Taryn Barney followed and ripped an 0-1 pitch off the left-field scoreboard for the game-winning three-run homer.
The Vikings (6-16), the tournament’s No. 4 seed, held Lewiston’s bats in check. Starting pitcher Kristine Schmidt leaned on off-speed pitches to disrupt hitters’ timing and didn’t allow a hit until the third inning.
Samantha Mader was equally good for the Bengals. She had a perfect game through three innings and only allowed three hits in the game. The senior struck out 13 and allowed no walks.
Post Falls beat Lake City 17-0 in their first-round game, and Lake City defeated Coeur d’Alene 2-1 in the loser-out game. Lewiston hosts the Timberwolves at 4 p.m. Thursday at Airport Park.
Coeur d’Alene 000 001 01 — 2 3 1
Lewiston 000 010 03 — 4 7 2
Kristine Schmidt and Makiya McPhedran; Samantha Mader and Taryn Barney.
Coeur d’Alene hits — Skylar Burke (3B), Sophia Farrar, McPhedran.
Lewiston hits — Lanie Weeks 2, Taryn Barney (HR), Loryn Barney, Tori Purington, Kate Banks, Evanne Douglass.
Post Falls 400 023 0 — 9 10 0
Lewiston 201 020 3 — 8 10 2
Sophie Nungesser, McKenna Moak (7) and Alyssa Krause; Kaitlin Banks, Samantha Mader (1), Banks (6) and Taryn Barney.
Post Falls hits — Kailey Cramer 3 (2B), Kaycie Barber 2 (2 3B), Krause 2 (HR), Moak 2 (2B), Kahlea Dumas.
Lewiston hits — Loryn Barney 2 (3B), Mader 2 (2B), Taryn Barney (HR), Jenika Ortiz (2B), Banks (2B), Tori Purington, Karli Taylor, Lanie Weeks.
Guernsey may be contacted at email@example.com, (208) 848-2258 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey.