Every time Bradie Fillmore has stepped into the circle this season, opposing offenses have gone dark.
With command of a deceptive, tight-spinning rise ball, the Eagle High senior has the Mustangs within reach of their second consecutive 5A state tournament championship when play begins Friday at Bonneville High in Idaho Falls.
Undefeated Eagle (26-0) opens against conference foe Mountain View (16-8-1) at 9 a.m. and is coming off three district tournament wins in which it outscored opponents 42-0.
“We’re definitely going to need to stay focused and know we have a big target on our back,” Fillmore said.
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Fillmore, a right-handed senior pitcher, is 11-0 with a 0.603 ERA, including six no-hitters and 10 shutouts. She has allowed just 18 hits and five earned runs in 58 innings, striking out 132 batters while walking 12.
“That rise ball, her spins are unreal compared to anyone else in the Valley, and that’s what makes her so dominant is actually throwing those spins and not just a fastball,” Eagle coach Nicole Rollins said. “... Her curve and everything else, the spins are so tight, you don’t have a chance.”
Fillmore verbally committed to Cal the summer before her sophomore year, and she has continued to build her resume in the two years since.
“She’s developed into a great leader this year. We put a little bit more pressure on her to pull her teammates along, too,” Rollins said. “There’s a lot of athletes out there that are just great on their own who can rise and be the star, but Bradie’s not like that.
“She actually doesn’t like the media attention. She hates when we put her in front of the camera.”
When she isn’t pitching, Fillmore starts at shortstop. She bats third in the order and has done just as much damage on the offensive end as she has in the field.
“She’s gotten much more selective in the pitches that she hits. If we make a mistake, anything over the plate, it’s gonzo,” Meridian coach Tom Pinkley said. “It’s either out or doubled-up against the fence pretty hard.
“She capitalizes on other pitchers’ mistakes, and I think a lot of it is because she’s a hitter who also has a pitcher’s mentality.”
The reigning Gatorade Idaho player of the year is batting a team-leading .676 with an on-base percentage of .726 and a slugging percentage of 1.412. In 68 at-bats, Fillmore has 48 hits — 22 singles, 11 doubles and 13 home runs with 53 RBIs and 42 runs scored. She’s struck out just twice this season.
“Everybody knows about her physical talents because they are pretty incredible,” Pinkley said. “A lot of times, nine-tenths of the battle is won just because of the confidence and the fierceness that she brings either as a hitter or a pitcher. She can control the game from both aspects.”
Eagle’s rise to No. 1 in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings has steadily followed Fillmore’s lead. She was named the MaxPreps National Junior of the Year in 2015, tying state tournament records for most hits (11) and most runs scored (9) as the Mustangs set team records for single-game runs (20) and average runs per game (12.25).
Then in February, Fillmore was named a preseason All-American.
Eagle started the 2016 season ranked No. 5 and took over the No. 1 ranking May 10, becoming the first Idaho team to do so.
Among the teams most likely to stand between the Mustangs and their seventh state title in program history is Coeur d’Alene. The Vikings lost 6-5 to Eagle in the first round last year, and then made their way through the double-elimination bracket, eventually falling again to Eagle, 8-6, in the title game. The two teams could meet as early as the second round this season.
“I never thought the time would come where I’m a senior and it’s my last state tournament,” Fillmore said. “And today, it’s our last practice. It’s crazy.”
Only five of Eagle’s games this season have gone the distance, and they have outscored opponents 353-21.
“I think there’s enough of them that are hungry, that if one of them is a little bit nervous, or not having the best at-bats, then the next one handles it well,” Rollins said. “This team is motivated internally. Each individual one of them; they’re competitive with each other. They are so competitive with each other.”
Treasure Valley teams won four of the five state tournaments in softball in 2015, and the 4A and 3A titles featured all-local finals.
Eagle (5A), Bishop Kelly (4A), Homedale (3A) and New Plymouth (2A) earned the right to defend their titles, and last year’s 1A runner-up — Horseshoe Bend — could set up a rematch of the 2015 championship game it lost 9-4 to Genesee.