Softball falls late to Timberlake to end season, DeMent and Nichols earn All-IML nods

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(Photo courtesy DONA STORRO) Spartan senior Morgan DeMent and sophomore Tawny Nichols earned All-IML Team selections in softball.

SPIRIT LAKE — The Priest River varsity softball team wrapped up its season in dramatic fashion with an 8-2 victory over Kellogg to start off the district tournament May 9, then leading but eventually losing to Timberlake 17-7 May 11. Head coach Rob DeMent said, “I was happy with the way the girls came out, considering the pressure of having our backs against the wall. We were able to jump up 5 to 0 after two innings. Tawny Nichols pitched really well, and we played solid defense behind her. It was a good game for us.”

Nichols and Morgan DeMent were named to the All-League team. “I was extremely happy for both of them to be chosen by the opposing coaches,” said DeMent.

Two days later, the Spartans started things great against Timberlake. The Spartans took a 4-1 lead in the second inning and were up 7-2 at the middle of the fourth inning. “We came out loose and played very well. We were able to take advantage of a few uncharacteristic errors and put some runs up early. Rachel pitched well, and did a good job of keeping them off balance for a while,” said DeMent.

However, as DeMent said he had expected, in the bottom of the fourth the Tigers turned their offense loose and began a three-inning, 15-run onslaught.

“I knew they’d make adjustments and put runs up. Their lineup is solid, 1 through 9, and they can score runs in bunches. They got going in the bottom of the fourth, pulling to within 1. We started to answer, but had a critical baserunning error that just killed our momentum in the top of the fifth. We planned on making a pitching change in the bottom of the fifth, and I stuck with the game plan. I felt Natalie Randolph could keep them off balance with the way her fastball breaks, plus her other pitches. Unfortunately, Timberlake’s bats were still red hot,” DeMent said. He added, “We played about as good as we could. I’m proud of the effort, and the fact my girls never quit. It’s a tall task to keep a great team like Timberlake down for 7 innings. We knew it needed to be a shootout, and we simply ran out of bullets.”

Morgan DeMent hit two home runs and knocked in five RBIs for the Spartans.

The postgame was emotional for Priest River’s nine seniors, said DeMent. “I’m so incredibly proud of those seniors, and they have left some big shoes to fill.”

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