Just when it looked like trouble might be rounding third base, Bishop Kelly junior pitcher Taylor Falkner turned a double play.
Falkner snagged a hard drive in mid-air as it headed right for her face, and then threw a bullet to first baseman Sheridan Meyer to pick Emmett's Jordyn Marquez off at first and escape a third-inning jam.
Falkner's savvy in the circle, along with home runs from teammates Delaney Atkins and Gabi Harrington, helped the Bishop Kelly softball team to a 6-1 victory over Emmett on Tuesday at Bishop Kelly High.
BK's win ended a short stay at the top of the standings for Emmett (15-4, 9-4), which inherited the No. 1 spot last week after Kuna's loss to Skyview (12-5-1, 7-5). It also moved the Knights (10-5, 8-4) into third place, a half-game ahead of Kuna (10-6, 8-5) with four games remaining in the regular season. Middleton (12-6, 9-3) beat Kuna 6-4 on Tuesday to take over the No. 1 spot.
"The past couple of games have been really important, but we've done a good job of taking it game-by-game," said Atkins, a sophomore center fielder who led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run.
Since 1997, Bishop Kelly has won more state championships than any other team with eight, but the last one came in 2007, which also was the Knights' most recent state tournament appearance.
The competitive nature of the 4A SIC - where six teams are within reach of the regular-season title - has helped to produce the past eight state champions.
"There are a lot of really good teams in this league and it shows each game by the competition and who's knocking off who," Bishop Kelly coach Tom Antonoplos said. "We've been real fortunate the last couple weeks to really start putting it together."
On Tuesday, eight of the Knights' nine batters managed a hit, led by freshman Harrington's 3-for-4 performance with a sixth-inning home run, a double and two runs scored. Left fielder and leadoff Sydney Engelhardt, a sophomore, and senior right fielder Morgan Mings added two hits apiece.
Strong play from underclassmen isn't unusual for BK, which has just one senior and two juniors on its roster and starts three sophomores and three freshmen.
"I think we are headed in a good direction," said Falkner, who struck out five and walked one in seven innings. "We are playing really well right now and hitting our high at the exact right moment."
The 4A District Three Tournament begins May 6 and runs through May 9 at Kuna High. The top three teams qualify for state May 17-18 at Post Falls High.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX