NAMPA - For a moment, it must have felt like a flashback to last year's 4A District Three championship game, but the Skyview High softball team didn't let the bad thoughts creep in.
Instead of allowing a seventh-inning rally, the Hawks closed the door on Kuna's comeback bid to preserve a 2-1 home victory Tuesday over the first-place Kavemen.
After Kuna sophomore Nicole Arizana led off the top of the seventh with a line-drive single to left field, Skyview pitcher Kylee Kennel struck out the next batter she faced. Kennel then coaxed the next two batters into flyouts to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Kavemen in last year's district title game.
"In certain situations like that, the odds have been against us sometimes," Skyview coach Jessica Wilson said. "They really came together and they were confident, and you could tell that out there. They knew they could do it, and I think that is something that has developed just this week in practice."
If nothing else, it was a much-needed confidence booster for the Hawks, who have seen their share of ups and downs this season since winning the program's first state championship last spring.
"We had a rough weekend at BK and they bounced back well from it today," Wilson said. "We got 10-runned by BK and I think it was kind of a wakeup call. Either we're going to make a change now or we're done.
"They came out today, and I think they made the statement that they want to turn it around for the second half of the season."
Even with six returning seniors, the Hawks find themselves in the middle of the 4A Southern Idaho Conference standings with six games remaining in the regular season, but they aren't out of the race yet.
Tuesday's victory gave the Hawks (11-4-1, 6-4 4A SIC) a season split with the Kavemen (9-4, 8-3) and knocked Kuna into second place behind Emmett (14-2, 8-2).
"There's probably six teams that have a chance to do something, I think," Kuna coach Joe Kleffner said. " It's a tough, tough league. You have to show up everyday with your A game, because if you show up with an A-minus game, you're probably going home with a loss."
Since the 4A classification was established for fastpitch softball in 2001, only one team outside of District Three has won a state championship. Madison's title in 2004 also was the last time the championship game didn't feature two District Three teams.
That's good news for the defending champion Hawks, who seem to be finding their stride at the right time.
"We have so much potential, but we have to make sure that when we're playing we bring it all on the field," senior center fielder Sarah Johansen said. "There's going to be ups and downs, but the more we stick together, the better we play."