The Mustangs’ offense broke loose for just one inning, but it was enough.
Kelly Kukla hit a two-run single in the fifth, Noelle Foster and Rachel Menlove followed with RBI singles of their own and Eagle held off Lake City for a 4-3 win Sunday and its third straight 5A state softball championship.
Lake City rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning, loading the bases before Olivia Zufelt hit a two-run triple to make it 4-2. Bailey Cavanagh followed with an RBI single to make it 4-3.
But Eagle’s Autumn Moffat retired the Timberwolves in order in the seventh to close the game out. The BYU signee struck out seven in the title game and took a one-hitter into the sixth.
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“It was definitely a battle,” second-year Eagle coach Nicole Rollins said. “We’ve had tough battles all year long. You see the true guts and glory out of these kids this year.”
After cruising to a 29-0 record and a MaxPreps. com national title last season, Eagle had to fight its way to another championship. It lost a pair of early conference games, showing the first signs of vulnerability in years.
But the Mustangs ended the season on a 17-game winning streak to extend their three-year record to 88-3 and solidify their status as one of Idaho’s all-time dynasties.
It marks the third title for seniors Menlove, Moffat, Kelly Kukla and Hailey Fisher, all of whom had key hits in the 2015 title game win over Coeur d’Alene in Post Falls. Eagle was the runner-up to Lake City in 2013.
“These seniors that are graduating this year, I came in with (them) as sophomores,” said Rollins, who was an assistant in 2015. “For them to battle and take it this year on their own is pretty sweet.”
After Saturday’s state tournament schedule was rained out, Eagle, Lake City, Kuna and Boise returned Sunday to finish up on a sunny, 78-degree day.
Eagle scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning and took advantage of three Lake City errors to win 9-4 and advance to the title game from the winners bracket.
Kuna (21-8) finished fourth after losing to Boise 5-1 in the losers’ bracket. Boise (23-9) then finished third after falling 9-6 to Lake City, which advanced to the title game.
Lake City (23-4) was bidding for its fourth state title in its first title-game appearance since 2013.
“I could not be more proud of the way these girls represented Lake City High,” third-year Lake City coach Jesse Lenz said. “Our school, our softball program, they battled their tails off. I tip my cap to (Eagle coach) Nicole (Rollins). She’s a hell of a coach, and it’s a great program they’ve got going. I think we gave them all they wanted and a little more in that title game.”
Lake City started five sophomores, two juniors, one freshman and one senior Sunday.
“I think Eagle showed more compassion and drive than we did today,” Beamer said. “But we’ll be back next year. As a team, we came closer together and showed what we can do and can’t do. Next year, we’re coming for it.”