MIDDLETON - Delaney Atkins made sure Kuna's two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning was short lived.
The junior center fielder made a diving catch for the final out of the game, securing Bishop Kelly's 4-1 victory over Kuna in the 4A District Three softball championship game Thursday at Middleton High.
Atkins' hit-robbing catch was one of several standout defensive plays made by the Knights, who became the first 4A team to beat Kuna this season.
"We knew that we had to come back. We were tired of losing to them," Atkins said. "We were pumped all day. We were sending texts to each other pumping each other up, and we had the power braids. That was very important."
Whether it was wearing their hair in matching French braids or a strong performance from senior pitcher Taylor Falkner, one thing was clear: The Knights came ready to play.
Falkner held the Kavemen to one hit through six innings, while her teammates managed nine hits, including junior Ellie Hanousek's solo home run to lead off the third inning.
"(Taylor) has always been a real bulldog when it comes to being a competitor," Bishop Kelly coach Tom Antonopolis said. " You give her the game to play in and she'll go out there and give you 150 percent."
Bishop Kelly (18-5) added two more runs in the fourth inning as shortstop Gabi Harrington reached on a double and Falkner knocked her home with a triple. Falkner then scored on first baseman Sheridan Meyer's single to right field.
Harrington finished 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI, boosting BK's run total to four with a solo shot that flew over the scoreboard in left field in the top of the sixth inning.
"That felt great. That felt perfect," Harrington said. "Ellie's home run was great, too. That was just the icing on the cake."
The defending state champion Knights and the Kavemen (20-3) advance to next week's 4A state tournament at the Skyview Softball Complex in Nampa.
Bishop Kelly will open against the District Five-Six runner-up, while Kuna draws District Five-Six champion Rigby (14-8).
A District Three team has won all but one state title since the 4A classification was formed in 2001.
SKYVIEW 13, MIDDLETON 8
The sixth-seeded Hawks got two home runs and six RBIs from sophomore third baseman Kaley Van Hooser on their way to a victory in the 4A District Three Tournament's third-place game.
Skyview (11-13) advances to state, while Middleton (19-6), the No. 3 seed, was eliminated.
The Hawks finished third at state last season and won it all in 2012.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX