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By MARK HIGH
CHUBBUCK â€” Like the rising waters of the Snake River the Lady Panther softball team are starting to crest, reaching a high water mark so far on the 2011 season as they advanced to next weeks state tournament with a convincing 9-4 win over Teton on Saturday afternoon.
"The last few games that we've played we've been getting better and better and we are peaking at the right time," Snake River head coach Kay Martin said. "Hey, you know what? They get to go to state and what a reward for them for the year that they've had and with the way that the girls are hitting the ball and with the way that they are playing right now, anything is possible."
Snake River set the tone defensively in the bottom of the first inning when center fielder Macy Martin leapt up and snagged a what would have been a 2-run home run.
That type of strong defensive play continued throughout the afternoon as the Lady Panthers turned in a marvelous defensive performance in support of starting pitcher Alyssa Delaney.
Chelsee Allen also turned in a web gem when she ended a threat in the bottom of the fifth inning when she snared a screaming line drive and then doubled off the runner at first base.
"We have the talent and when we put it all together we are pretty tough to beat," coach Martin said. "My hats off to the girls, I'm proud of them, they played very well today."
Offensively, Snake River had 15 hits on the day with every member of the line up reaching base at OK Ward Park. Snake River scored all the runs that they needed in the top of the second inning. Taylor Herrick led off the frame by taking the first pitch that she was offered up and out of the yard with a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. That was the start of a 6 run outburst that witnessed the Lady Panthers sending 11 hitters to the plate. Shayla Jones, Macy Martin, Cassie Alberston, Chelsee Allen and Bailey Simper all had hits in the frame.
"The spark for us was when Taylor Herrick gets up there and hits a home run on the first pitch that she sees and that just kind of set the prescidence for us for the rest of the game," coach Martin said. "A six run inning on Teton, who are a good team, was just huge for us."
Teton was able to cut the score to 6-4 by the bottom of the sixth inning but Snake River was having none of that comeback nonsense on Saturday as they struck back for 3 runs in the top of the seventh inning, stealing away any momentum that the Teton dugout had gained.
Delaney then shut down the Teton line up 1-2-3 in the home half of the seventh inning, getting the final out via the strikeout, her seventh of the day as Snake River celebrated their state play in game win.
"Alyssa did a really good job of hitting her spots today and just pitched a heck of a ball game for us," coach Martin said. "These girls have battled and battled throughout the year to just get a good as they possibly can."
Snake River (10-10) will face Kimberly at OK Ward Park in the first round of the state tournament on Friday at high noon.
SNAKE RIVER 9, TETON 4
Snake River 060 000 3 - 9 15 2
Teton 000 103 0 - 4 5 5
Snake River hitters - Chelsey Martin 2-4 2B, Bailey Simper 3-5 2B, Chelsee Allen 2-4 2B, Taylor Herrick 1-4 HR, Cassie Albertson 3-4; pitching - Alyssa Delaney (W) 7IP 4R 2ER 5H 7K 1BB 2HP
Teton hitters - Mikian Dansie 1-3, Matalia Farmer 1-2, Lori Brewster 1-3, Shelby McCashful 2-3; pitching - Payton Larson (L) 7IP 9R 2ER 15H 1K OBB