Bonneville heads to first state tourney since ‘04

The last time the Bonneville High School softball had been to a state tournament, its players were 4-, 5-year-old children.

Those children are now making history for the Bees.

Bonneville plays Rocky Mountain in the 5A state tournament today at Coeur d’Alene high school — its first state tournament game in 13 seasons.

Coach Donnie Edwards said Thursday this is the Bees’ first trip to the 5A tournament , and the first time the program has been to the state tournament since 2004 (when Bonneville was a 4A school).

“I’m just just ecstatic. I’m just happy for our kids,” said Edwards, who’s been at Bonneville since 1996 and was there when the school transitioned from slow pitch to fast pitch softball. “With the last four years with this bunch of kids, that our juniors and seniors, they’ve worked extremely hard for this last little bit.”

The Bees unlikely advancement to the state tournament (which concludes Saturday) began May 11 when they won two straight games as a No. 5 seed to advance to the District 5-6 championship. Bonneville would eventually lose to Highland in the championship game, but still qualified for the state tournament — in part to ace Anne Elliott.

Elliott, a sophomore, will start against Rocky Mountain.

“She was a little wide-eyed in the beginning, and it was a learning experience for her, but she’s thrown against some pretty good teams … if anything, it’s going to be a fantastic learning experience for our kids,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he will lean on Elliott and Marcie Cromwell heavily, as Bonneville’s bracket includes the state tournament’s previous three winners (Eagle and Rocky Mountain).

Still, Edwards said it’s a learning experience and a chance for him and the Bees to set up Bonneville for future tournament runs.

Edwards calls it a “blue-collar” work ethic.

“We were fairly young, we lost about nine seniors, and it took them a while to find their identity and who they were, but one thing that has stayed consistent with them all year long is they’re just tough as nails,” Edwards said. “They wouldn’t quit, they wouldn’t give up and that’s kind of how our district tournament went.”