Moscow Bears softball bashes Lakeland, gets on the brink of a state berth

May 8—MOSCOW — Wind whipped dirt across the softball diamond and into the face of Moscow slugger Kaci Kiblen as she sank into her batting stance in the fourth inning of an Idaho Class 4A district tournament game against visiting Lakeland of Rathdrum.

Three balls and three fouled pitches later, Kiblen smacked a line-drive home run over the wall in center field — against the wind pouring into the ballpark — to score herself and teammate Sadie Newlan.

Their Bears teammates were waiting at home plate when Kiblen crossed the plate for a six-run lead.

Moscow went on to defeat Lakeland by mercy rule, 11-1 in five innings, to get within one game of becoming district champs Tuesday at the Moscow School District Community Playfields.

"Lakeland's a good hitting team and this wind makes it tough," Moscow coach Eric Kiblen said. "(The home run) was a well-hit ball. Our bats just came alive tonight. We talked about putting the ball on the ground and making them make plays and the girls just bought in and did everything they were supposed to do tonight."

The Bears (15-10) and Hawks (10-13) will battle again at 5 p.m. Thursday at the same site. A Moscow win clinches the district crown and a trip to State. A Lakeland victory would mean the two squads meet again Saturday for all the marbles.

Bears pile up the hits

Kaci Kiblen was Moscow's catalyst at the plate, going 3-for-3 with four runs and her two-RBI home run.

But she wasn't the only Bear to have a big day in the batter's box.

Addie Branen had two hits and crossed home three times; Megan Highfill notched two hits, including a double in Moscow's big four-run fourth; and Hannah Robertson drove in three runs.

Highfill's other hit was a hard single to center field to score Kiblen to end the game by mercy rule in the fifth.

"We put it all together tonight," Eric Kiblen said. "Our bats have been there all season but more importantly our defense was there tonight. Our defense has been kind of up and down all season and tonight we kind of put everything together."

Keeping the Hawks grounded

Moscow poured on two runs in the first and three more in the second inning for a quick 5-0 lead and never looked back.

Moscow pitcher Stodick scattered five hits, fanned five batters and allowed just one run in a complete-game performance in the circle. She also contributed a 2-for-4 showing at the plate with a sacrifice fly and one run scored.

"Kelly has been consistent all season," Eric Kiblen said. "She's always going to be there but she was dialed in tonight. All of her pitches hit her spots and she was solid."

For Lakeland, Ada Blakemore went 2-for-2 and drove in the team's only run in the fourth.

Familiar foes

Ever since Lakeland beat Moscow 7-5 in the teams' first meeting April 11, the Bears have won four straight games against their 4A Inland Empire League foes.

That includes three victories in a five-day span going back to a doubleheader Thursday.

But they'll need to get one more to clinch a spot at State. With Tuesday's win, now they'll have two more shots to make that happen.

"I think this has been one of our best games yet and it's just going to get better from here," Stodick said. "I think we just gotta keep our momentum going and keep our hitting and our fielding (going) and just go and win it."

Lakeland 000 10—1 5 4

Moscow 230 42—11 12 0

Abigail Helmholz, Mackenzie Briggs (4) and Katie Dewey, Payton Sterling; Kelly Stodick and Megan Highfill. W—Stodick; L—Helmholz.

Lakeland hits — Ada Blakemore 2, Delilah Zimmerman, Raygen Dutton, Dewey.

Moscow hits — Kaci Kiblen 3 (HR), Megan Highfill 2 (2B), Addie Branen 2, Sadie Newlan 2, Stodick, Sammy Pfiffner, Ella McCallie.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, or on Twitter @StephanSports.