NAMPA – Hailey Humpherys practically has enough silver to craft a 14-piece utensil set. The Bear Lake star is in the midst of a senior season that’s as incredible as it is agonizing, helping the Bears to state title game appearances in volleyball and basketball only to take home, you guessed it, more silver.
After Bear Lake turned the 2A state softball tournament into its own little batting practice on Friday – walloping New Plymouth by 10 before trouncing Declo 17-4 – the Bears are a game away from the state championship game. Another state championship game. Another chance at hardware. Another chance for Humpherys to end her high school career with a piece of gold.
Humpherys is a long-legged, blonde-haired ball of athleticism. She wasn’t the star of the Bears volleyball team, but she made the first-team all-state team and helped the Bears to a district title and runner-up spot at state. She was the dynamic point guard for the Bear Lake girls basketball team that unexpectedly made the state title game, a fierce ball-handler who could drive through a 12-lane highway to get to the hoop. And, on the diamond, she is the Bears’ ace, a superb pitcher with a five-pitch repertoire who can also win games with her bat – like against Declo, where she went 4 for 4 with 5 RBIs and a homer.
“She’s just an amazing player. All-state in two sports and she’s probably going to make it three now,” Bear Lake coach Jared Hiller said. “She’s got two second-place trophies. She doesn’t want a third one. She wants that first-place trophy.”
Humpherys is not one for self-gratification. Most arms in the state are not as dominant as her, especially when she can mix her fastball, changeup, curveball, screwball and rise ball with such randomness that hitters fall out of their shoes swinging at air. On Friday alone, the senior combined to throw 10 innings for the Bears. She struck out 10, walked just one and her 16 hits led to just five earned runs.
The explanation for her success? “Just practice,” she said with a grin.
Practice is also the answer for Bear Lake’s confidence heading into a matchup most would dread. The Bears (23-6-1) have faced Malad (23-0) four times so far this season. They’ve racked up four losses. Their fifth meeting will be Saturday at 10 a.m., a game that will send the winner to the state title game. But if rain begins to pour and getting in a full slate of game seems bleak, the game may just serve as the state title game.
Perhaps that would be apropos. Two of the best 2A players in the state – Humpherys and Malad star Riley Dorius – in the circle to decide a championship.
“I’m not confident we can beat them but I’m … We had some problems with errors (against Malad this season.) We can fix that,” Hiller said. “What we said from the first day of practice is I told the girls, ‘If we play our best softball, the only team in the state who can beat us is us.”
Perhaps it’s easy to feel assured with Alexia Coombs – who mashed two dingers against Declo – leading a power-laden lineup and Humpherys manning the mound with more confidence than a ship captain in a canoe and knowing Saturday is her last chance to change the color of her hardware.
“It’s pretty rough,” she said. “It makes me want to win even more.”
BEAR LAKE 14, NEW PLYMOUTH 4 (5)
Bear Lake 522 05 — 14 15 3
New Plymouth 010 03 — 4 8 7
Bear Lake — WP: Hailey Humpherys. HR: Gracey Rigby. 2B: Alexis Coombs, Hailey Humpherys, Abbie Johnson.
New Plymouth — LP: Jewel Bell. 2B: Kerissa Rupp.
BEAR LAKE 17, DECLO 4 (5)
Bear Lake 636 20 — 17 19 2
Declo 020 20 — 4 8 4
Bear Lake — WP: Hailey Humpherys. HR: Alexis Coombs (2), Hailey Humpherys. 2B: Hailey Humpherys (2), Shanyce Peterson, Shylee Woolstenhulme.
Declo — LP: K. Koyle. 2B: E. Brase, M. Larson.