NAMPA - Based on how they began the tournament, it will be tough to prevent the Bishop Kelly Knights from repeating as state champions.
The Knights blanked both teams they faced Friday in the double-elimination tournament at the Skyview Softball Complex, and face Twin Falls at 10 a.m. Saturday for a berth in the title game.
Both wins were as different as they could be - a 1-0 nail-biter over Blackfoot to start the day, and an 18-0 rout of Canyon Ridge to end it.
"It was good to have both kinds of games, because we know most of them are going to be more like the 1-0 one, but 18-0 felt really good because we all had the bats going," Bishop Kelly pitcher Taylor Falkner said.
Falkner gave up only three hits on the day, striking out 13 for the Knights (20-5). She was aided by Gabi Harrington's solo homer for the only run in the opener, and helped her own cause with three RBIs against Canyon Ridge.
"I'm feeling good, but I've got confidence because the defense has been great, and we just trust that someone will do something like Gabi did," Falkner said.
As much a fixture in the race for the 4A title as the Knights are, so have the Kuna Kavemen been in recent years, and this one is no different. The Kavemen beat Rigby 11-7 before falling to Twin Falls 2-0, but bounced back with a 5-1 win over Blackfoot. Kuna (22-4) faces Canyon Ridge in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Kuna ace Nicole Arizana yielded only four runs on the day and helped her cause with a bevy of extra-base hits, including a home run against Blackfoot.
"I still think there's room to improve pitching, but I was seeing the ball really well batting," Arizana said.
The third team in the field from the 4A SIC, Skyview, fell to Twin Falls 17-7, then routed Rigby 18-6 before losing 7-6 in a heartbreaker against Canyon Ridge to end the Hawks' season. The Hawks (11-16) led 6-2 entering the seventh inning, but the Riverhawks' Kayler Detmer belted a grand slam to tie it, then won thanks to a passed ball later in the inning.
Four Hawks had a pair of hits apiece in the loss to the Riverhawks.
"We've been the underdogs all year, came on strong in district and earned their spot at state a run we weren't supposed to get," coach Jael McCarty said.