ELLIOTT: Already earned exactly what they have

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Chances are, there’s going to be a player or team that’s going to jump up and surprise some teams as the prep season winds down with the state championships in four different spring sports, as well as conference championships for North Idaho College.

Will it be an a state softball, baseball, track and field or tennis title? We’ll have to wait and see.

IT REALLY shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if it’s a team or a player from the north.

Fans of these teams know exactly what they’re capable of and that it’s quite possible the teams from District 1 are playing their best baseball/softball of the season right now.

The Post Falls baseball team had to win three one-run games to advance to state for the first time since the 2006 season. A lot of things have changed since for the Trojans program. In that last appearance, they were in the 4A classification, not the highest classification of 5A that they are now.

Then again, this group has been in some big time games, advancing to the Little League Northwest Regional final in 2012, eventually losing to a team from Gresham, Ore.

Sure, it’s the first time to state in a while, but these kids have played in some big games in the past. What’s another three in the Boise area at this point?

Fans in the north have known all year long that the Lake City softball team was capable of a deep playoff run, and they’ve done that. Lake City won a third straight regional title, and with a little more experience than in 2017, could be right back in the title game again. Same could be said for Timberlake’s softball team, last year’s 3A runner-up.

Timberlake’s baseball team has a lot of experience back from last year’s team, which lost in the consolation championship game.

Who knows, maybe it will be someone else that steps up and does something amazing.

NOT THAT homefield advantage should matter much in softball, but you can’t help but be impressed with the season that the North Idaho College softball team is having this year.

Keep in mind, the team hasn’t played a home game on its home field, Memorial Field, in two years due to construction, and have played at Post Falls High, where they only lost once this season.

In fact, NIC (45-3) opens the Northwest Athletic Conference Championship tournament on Friday against Columbia Basin (15-29) at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane on Friday as the tournament’s top seed. The Cardinals are also on an 18-game win streak entering the tournament.

JUST TO get to this point, teams and athletes have already accomplished a ton during the last couple of weeks.

Staying motivated while the weather wasn’t cooperating early in the season, you’ve got to hand it to these kids, who for the past month have had games canceled, rescheduled and played, sometimes on back-to-back days.

Win or lose, they’re champions already, just for sticking with their respective sports when times got tough.

So don’t be shocked if a few bring back some gold from down south this weekend.

They’ve already earned it.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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