It took an extra day, some extra bus rides, and even an extra inning, but the Eagle softball team brought a fitting end to the most successful season in Idaho high school history.
After 5A state tournament games were rained out Saturday in Idaho Falls, the tournament moved to Mountain View High for an unprecedented Sunday finish. First, the Mustangs completed a suspended semifinal versus Coeur d’Alene, narrowly escaping with a 1-0 victory in eight innings.
Star pitchers Bradie Fillmore and Autumn Moffat took it from there, combining on a state championship no-hitter in a 5-2 victory over District Three rival Rocky Mountain.
Eagle, currently the top-ranked team in the CBS MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings, almost certainly will end the season that way after rolling to a perfect 29-0 record capped by a championship repeat.
Never miss a local story.
“Phenomenal,” Eagle coach Nicole Rollins said. “I knew these girls could do it all along. Top to bottom, their confidence is unreal.”
That confidence was tested bright and early Sunday, with the Mustangs locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel between Fillmore and Coeur d’Alene ace Bre Burke, a UNLV signee. Both teams escaped dicey situations in the seventh, setting the stage for a dramatic extra inning.
With the championship pressure mounting, Moffat led off the eighth by ripping a single through the middle, scoring tiebreaker speed-up runner Kate Kukla from second base for the first run of the game.
“All I knew was I needed to score this run for my team, because I knew there was no way we were losing this game,” said Moffat, a junior who has committed to BYU. “Close games are by far my favorite. That was my favorite game we played all season.”
Fillmore walked a batter to put two on with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but she made a sliding catch of Betty Comack’s popped-up bunt and then induced back-to-back groundouts to seal the victory.
Eagle carried its momentum into the title game, jumping on Rocky Mountain early. Kelly Kukla drew a leadoff walk, Fillmore singled and cleanup hitter Martha Tooley ripped a two-run single to left as the Mustangs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
Fillmore slammed the door from there, pitching a perfect game through three innings. Moffat added an RBI single in the third and, after two walks and a throwing error put Rocky Mountain on the board in the fifth, she relieved Fillmore and closed things out with two shutout innings.
Maddie Strickler scored on a passed ball and Tooley came home on a fielder’s choice to cap the scoring for Eagle, which pounded out 10 hits in the win.
“It’s kind of a relief, honestly,” said Fillmore, a Cal-bound senior who finished the season 13-0 in the circle. “But we deserve to be here. It’s an honor to be part of a team like this.”
Fillmore, Moffat and Tooley — a senior who will continue her career at the College of Idaho — each had two hits in the championship game. The trio often led the way for the Mustangs this season, but Rollins pointed to the team’s depth as the key to its dominance.
Eagle ends the season having outscored its opponents 378-26.
“Every day, somebody else has been a hero,” Rollins said. “Every single one of them is a star who has come through for us, and I think that’s what keeps us alive.”
From relief to joyful exuberance, the postgame celebration featured a wide range of emotions. And amidst the jubilation, many players’ thoughts turned to former coach Doug Corta, who died of cancer in November just months after leading the Mustangs to their 2015 state title.
“When Doug passed, it was tough,” Tooley said. “But to be able to continue his legacy on the field as back-to-back state champs, it’s a pretty special moment.”