Rams top Grizz for sixth straight district title

The Skyline High School softball team had a chance to make history in Thursday’s 5A District 5-6 softball championship game on their home field.

But the Grizzlies ran into a Highland team busy adding to its history of success.

The second-seeded Rams rallied in the final inning for a victory over Idaho Falls in a loser-out showdown, then rode that momentum to an 8-4 win over the Grizzlies. That earned Highland its sixth straight district title, and kept Skyline from winning its first in program in history.

“This is a huge disappointment,” Skyline coach Tammy Sorensen said. “It was our goal from the beginning of the season to win (the district title). We’d like to have that one back.”

It was a tough finish to a day that began with the Grizzlies belting the Rams 10-3 in the semifinals to earn a return trip to state. After the blowout win, the Grizzlies spent the rest of the day trying to get ready for the championship game.

Highland made sure the Grizzlies had an extra-long wait, falling behind Idaho Falls before rallying with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a win.

“It’s scary sitting around when the other team is winning,” Sorensen said.

Less than 30 minutes after dispatching the Tigers, the Rams came out flying against Skyline. Highland’s first three batters reached base on two singles and a walk before cleanup hitter Madeline Livermore belted a grand slam high over the left-field fence.

“There was a lot of pressure on these seniors,” Highland coach Tisha Coverdale said. “We played nervous in the first two games. But once they got that win over I.F., they relaxed. And they played one of their better games of the year (in the championship).”

Highland held that 4-0 lead until the third, when Skyline’s bats finally came alive against sophomore lefty Hailey Huelsman. The Grizzlies belted six hits in the bottom of the third, the biggest being a three-run double from Megan Smith. Macy Jenkins added an RBI single to tie it.

Highland regained its lead in the fifth on a two-run bomb to right by senior catcher Makenzie Van Sickle, then added to the lead with two more runs in the seventh.

Meanwhile, Rams freshman Kiara Branson got a taste of the district tournament, pitching four shutout innings of relief to earn the win.

“We know we have good hitters, and they came through,” Coverdale said. “And our young pitchers were great.”

Now Sorensen and the Grizzlies will have to put the district title disappointment behind them and focus on the state tournament. Skyline (21-4) opens play May 16 at the Skyview Softball Complex in Nampa.

“We’ve got some good leadership with these seniors,” Sorensen said. “We’ll come back and be ready to play.”