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THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Missing Cd'A, Lake City at state softball — but not the rain

| May 27, 2021 1:30 AM

Just when spring high school sports returned to some semblance of normal this year, a very abnormal thing happened.

For the first time since Idaho switched to fastpitch in 1995, neither Coeur d'Alene nor Lake City qualified for state in softball.

(OK, you could say the same thing happened last spring, when there were no spring sports championships in Idaho. But that would come with an asterisk.

This year wouldn't.)

FROM 1995-2016, Coeur d'Alene qualified for state every year but two — in 2001 and in 2010. The Vikings did not qualify in 2017 and ’18, then tied for third in the rain-abbreviated tourney in 2019.

From 1995-2019, Lake City qualified for state in 18 of the 25 seasons, including the last 11.

In the first 22 state fastpitch tournaments, Coeur d'Alene and Lake City both qualified for 14 of them. And, both qualified in 2019, making it 15 times in 25 seasons both teams made it to state through 2019.

In the first 22 state fastpitch tourneys, Coeur d'Alene played in the championship game 13 times, winning five times.

In the first 25 state fastpitch tourneys, Lake City played in the title game nine times, winning three times.

Coeur d'Alene and Lake City squared off in the state championship game three times, with Coeur d'Alene winning all three.

In nine state tourneys, both Coeur d'Alene and Lake City brought home trophies, by finishing in the top 4.

All told, Coeur d'Alene has brought home 17 trophies from state, Lake City 13.

THIS YEAR, despite neither qualifying, both had a pretty good shot at making it to state.

Coeur d'Alene was the No. 4 seed in the four-team 5A Region 1 tournament, but led top-seeded Lewiston until the Bengals prevailed on a walk-off homer in the first round.

Lewiston then lost to third-seeded Post Falls for the regional title, while Coeur d'Alene was eliminated by No. 2 Lake City.

Post Falls qualified for state for just the fifth time. The Trojans, who won a state title in 2010 — a year Coeur d'Alene didn't qualify and Lake City didn't bring home a trophy — finished fourth.

Lake City then ousted Lewiston from the tournament on the Bengals' home field. Lewiston had won its first league title in school history, and was bidding for its first regional title, but wound up not even making it to state.

Lake City, meanwhile, led Skyview 7-4 after four innings in the state play-in game before the Hawks prevailed.

And wouldn't you know it? Skyview went on to win the state title, its first as a 5A school.

Perhaps just as unusual, the state softball tournaments were completed despite some rain issues.

In recent years, especially but not exclusively in the North, state softball has either been pushed back to a Sunday finish, and/or seen the format altered to shortened games and/or elimination of the losers bracket.

This year, with the tourneys in the Boise area, there were rain delays Saturday at some sites, and the 5As moved from Mountain View High in Meridian to Skyview Park in Nampa.

Meanwhile, the weather up here last weekend was even better than it was down south — by the time it started pouring on Saturday, the tourneys would probably have been over.

Figures.

State 5A and 4A softball was supposed to be up here this year, but the Boise area got a second chance to host after not being able to last year due to COVID-19.

Next year, the state 5A tourney is scheduled for Coeur d'Alene, and the 4As in Post Falls (the 3A tourney doesn't return north until 2024).

What would be more likely — Coeur d'Alene and Lake City both missing out on state for a second straight year, or ... the tournaments being impacted by rain?

I think we have a better chance of getting wet.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.