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IDAHO FALLS - Hard work and persistence paid off for the Firth High School Lady Cougars as they captured the sixth district 2A softball title with an 8-1 victory over the Lady Huskies of North Fremont.
"All those hours of practice through the toughest weather Idaho could muster really paid off today," said Coach Rachel Olsen. "These girls have fought through the snow and cold and wind and made steady improvement all spring."
Senior Kelsie Oliver took to the pitcher's rubber at the start of the game, something she has done all spring, and simply overwhelmed the Lady Huskey offense. In earning her third tournament victory, Oliver pitched a complete game, striking out a pair of hitters and only giving up four hits.
"I had a lot of confidence in my defense today," said Oliver. "They have really played great all week and I knew that if the ball came their way, they would make the play."
Firth got their offense going at the outset of the game, when the first three batter in the lineup all reached base via a walk. Cleanup hitter Britanna Spencer drove in the first two runs of the game with a single, putting the Lady Cougars ahead 2-0 after the first inning.
"It was important for us to get an early lead and put some pressure on their team," said Coach Olsen. "North is a very young team and we wanted them to know that we were coming at them with everything we had."
After a scoreless second inning, the Lady Cougars were back on offense in the third. A walk, a single and a couple of Huskie errors led to four runs and Firth led 6-0 after three innings.
"Once we had the lead, I knew that all I had to do was force the hitters to put the ball in play and we would get the outs," said Oliver. "I kept moving the ball around in the strike zone and the hitters kept hitting it right at our defense which was awesome today."
North Fremont was able to get on the board in the fourth inning as the put together three seeing eye singles to plate one run, but the Lady Cougars bounced back with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning and the score stood at 7-1 after four innings.
A scoreless fifth brought the Lady Cougars to bat in the sixth inning and they were able to cross the plate one final time. A single and stolen base by Shelby Pfeiffer set the stage for Brooke Chatlain who came through with a single of her own, allowing Pfeiffer to score the Lady Cougars eighth run.
Oliver came out strong in the top of the seventh, getting three fly outs to wrap up the game and send Firth to the state tournament in Orofino beginning on Friday.
"This has been really awesome and lots of fun," said senior first baseman Shannon Spencer. "These girls have learned to work as a unit and going to state is going to be a blast."
NFHS 000 100 0 - 1 6 2
FHS 204 101 X - 8 10 0
North Fremont hitting: Brianna Parkinson 1-4, Dakota Marshall 1-3, Kaitlyn Sanders 1-3, Karli Marotz 1-3, Shalone Jensen 1-2, DeLaney Wynn 1-2
pitching: Hannah Hossner (L) 6IP 8R 6ER 8H 4BB 1K
Firth hitting: Shannon Spencer 2-3 3B, Brooke Chatlain 1-2, Kelsie Oliver 2-3 3B, Shellbie Williams 1-4, Brittana Spencer 3-3 2B, Shelby Pfeiffer 1-3
pitching: Kelsie Oliver (W) 7IP 1R 1ER 6H 2K 3BB