Soggy weather forces State A softball rescheduling
By the Missoulian
POLSON – Wet weather sought out the Mission Valley as well, suspending three of the first eight games at the State A softball tournament Thursday at the high school softball complex.
All four first-round games were completed as well as one of the following second-round contests. The remaining three second-round games, which all feature top seeds, will resume early Friday morning.
Libby knocked off defending state champion Laurel 3-1 in a rematch of last season’s title game, which the Locomotives won 11-1. It was Libby’s second win of the day and the Loggers (17-7) were the only team to advance into the championship bracket semifinals.
Hamilton was leading Columbia Falls 10-3 in the top of the sixth inning when it was stopped because of rain. The Wildkats had the bases loaded with one out. That winner also moves into the championship semis. They’ll resume at 8 a.m. Friday.
The late second-round games didn’t even start on Thursday. They’ll begin at 9 a.m. Corvallis plays its first game against Butte Central, which opened with a 7-4 win over Belgrade, and Polson hosts Frenchtown, which already beat Havre 8-3.
Libby opened the day with a narrow 8-7 victory over Billings Central and Columbia Falls beat Sidney 9-3.
The first set of loser-out games are still scheduled for 11 a.m., weather permitting, and the championships semis are set for 1 p.m.
Libby 3, Laurel 1
The Loggers plated two runs in the top of the seventh to snap a 1-1 tie and avenge last year’s title loss to the Locomotives.
Junior pitcher Brooke Hageness was one of three players with an RBI double. Hageness also pitched three scoreless innings after giving up a run in the fourth. She struck out six batters.
Libby, which also lost to Laurel at the Butte Central Invite, scored one run in the sixth to tie the game 1-1.
The Locos were led by Brittney Sterna, who was 1-for-3 with a triple, the team’s only extra-base hit.
Libby 000 001 2 – 3 7 0
Laurel 000 100 0 – 1 6 0
Brooke Hageness and Shelby Barton. Kirby Myers and Caitlyn Caron. W – Hageness. L – Myers.
LIBBY – Hageness 2-4, Nickole Lapka 1-4, Barton 1-3, Laice Dedrick 1-3, Megan Wedel 0-3, McKenzi Grotjohn 1-3, Sami Freebury 0-3, Christina Shilling 1-3, Holly Cirian 0-2.
LAUREL – Olivia Heidinger 0-1, Katie Michunovich 1-3, Tiff Thomas 1-2, Brittney Ceaser 1-2, Myers 1-2, Caitlin Bummen 0-3, Caron 0-3, Jena Reisinger 0-3, Brittney Sterna 1-3, Same Ewalt 1-3.
2B – Hageness, Barton, Dedrick, Cirian. 3B – Sterna. RBIs. – Hageness 1, Barton 1, Dedrick 1.
Frenchtown 8, Havre 3
Home runs by Lauren Lofts and Noelle Lebsock helped the Broncs get past the Blue Ponies in first-round action.
Lofts hit a three-run dinger in the fourth to break a 2-2 tie. Lebsock, who went 3-for-4 in the game, added a solo homer in the fifth and an RBI single in the sixth.
Sophomore Shelby Russ pitched the first six frames and senior Mandy Holloron pitched a perfect seventh to hold Havre to four hits. Russ finished with 13 strikeouts to go with five walks.
Also for Frenchtown, Alex Duncan went 3-for-4 with a run batted in.
Havre scored all three of its runs on either wild pitches or passed balls.
Havre 101 001 0 – 3 4 2
Frenchtown 200 312 0 – 8 10 1
Stephanie Stremcha and Jessica Obrecht. Shelby Russ, Mandy Holloron (7) and Jennifer Chapman, Kelly Engwall (7). W – Russ. L – Stremcha.
HAVRE – Holly Cartright 1-4, Karly Evans 0-3, Samantha Mack 0-2, Stremcha 0-0, Katie McLeod 0-3, Erika Briese 1-2, Tereyl Shrauger 0-3, Tiffany Raines 1-3, Tabby Myers 0-1, Stacy Sheppard 1-3.
FRENCHTOWN – Alex Duncan 3-4, Holloron 1-3, Kristy Kees 0-1, Noelle Lebsock 3-4, Russ 0-3, Engwall 0-3, Chapman 1-3, Lauren Lofts 1-3, Kelly Reed 1-2, Kali Bennett 0-2.
2B – Cartright. Chapman. Lebsock. HR – Lebsock, Lofts. RBIs. – Russ 1, Lofts 3, Lebsock 2, Duncan 1.
Butte Central 7, Belgrade 4
Kacey Daily slapped three hits, with a triple and drove in a run as Butte Central topped its old conference rival Belgrade.
Also, Amber Orizotti had a double and two RBIs for the Maroons.
Kelsey Foster and Krista Howard each went 3-for-3 for the Panthers.
Butte C. 014 000 2 – 7 9 2
Belgrade 101 011 0 – 4 10 1
Kelli O’Leary and Brooke Pokany. Lauren Torres and Brittney Markham. W – O’Leary. L – Torres.
BUTTE CENTRAL – Pokany 0-4, Kylie Orizotti 2-4, Kelci Thatcher 2-4, Amber Orizotti 1-2, O’Leary 0-1, Kacey Daily 3-4, Saidee Johnston 1-2, Julie Lally 0-4, Hannah Manion 0-3.
BELGRADE – Kelsey Foster 3-3, Torres 1-3, Megan Bell 1-3, Krista Howard 3-3, Stephanie Livermore 1-4, Markham 0-3, Carissa Erickson 0-3, Jillian Gue 0-3, Brittany Larsen 0-3, 1-2.
2B – K. Orizotti, A. Orizotti. Howard 2. 3B – Daily. RBIs. – A. Orizotti 2, Daily 1, Johnston 1. Foster 1, Livermore 1.
Libby 8, Billings Central 7
Hageness and Nickole Lapka each went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a run batted in to lead Libby over Central.
The Loggers scored four times in the fourth inning to take a 7-4 lead. They added a cushion run in the fifth, which helped after the Rams rallied for three scores in the last two innings.
Laice Dedrick added two hits and an RBI for Libby.
Billings C. 200 202 1 – 7 8 0
Libby 201 410 0 – 8 12 1
BILLINGS CENTRAL – Danielle Martinson 2-4, Brynn Burke 0-4, Brianne Runnel 2-4, Megan Smith 0-4, Beth Vogl 1-4, Shea Chilton 1-4, Amber Uzelac 1-3, Austin Hanser 1-3.
LIBBY – Brooke Hageness 2-4, Nickole Lapka 2-4, Shelby Barton 2-4, Laice Dedrick 2-4, Megan Wedel 2-4, McKenzi Grotjohn 2-4, Sami Freebury 0-4, Christina Shilling 0-4, Holly Cirian 0-3.
2B – Martinson 2, Chilton, Uzelac. Hageness, Lapka, Barton, Dedrick. 3B – Grotjohn. RBIs. – Hageness, Lapka, Dedrick.
Columbia Falls 9, Sidney 3
The Wildkats outhit the Eagles 13-10, including four doubles as they opened state tourney play with a win.
Amanda Milliard was 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored. Amber James also had three hits, while Brittany White had a double and two RBIs.
Jennie Johnson got the win despite giving up double-digit hits to Sidney. Johnson didn’t allow any extra-base hits.
C. Falls 130 230 0 – 9 13 1
Sidney 000 300 0 – 3 10 2
Jennie Johnson and Amber James. Netale Roth and Amanda VanEvery. W – Johnson. L – Roth.
COLUMBIA FALLS – Amanda Milliard 3-4, Lindsey Nelson 1-4, Vanesha Riley 1-4, James 3-4, Drew Walter 2-4, Kayla Stinger 1-4, Brittany White 1-4, Sami Venezio 1-4.
SIDNEY -. Kayla Fritz 1-3, Amanda Lorenz 1-4, Lexi Buxbaum 2-4, Roth 2-4, Jen Nielson 1-4, Kristy Obergfell 0-2, Shevon Lorenz 0-3, Meghan Feuhlauer 1-2, VanEvery 2-3.
2B – Milliard, Riley, James, White. RBIs. – Riley 1, James 1, Walter 1, White 2.
Pair of Broncs to collide in undefeated matchup
By NICK LOCKRIDGE of the Missoulian
POLSON – More Wheaties, please? Not if you’re Kali Bennet. It’s more like, more waffles!
Frenchtown’s spunky second baseman hit the waffle iron first thing Friday morning and later hit the game-winning home run to boost her Broncs over Corvallis, 1-0, and into the undefeated game of the Class A state tournament at Polson’s softball complex.
Bennett’s solo home was the only offense in a hotly-contested championship bracket semifinal game. Frenchtown began the day at 9 a.m. with a 9-1 victory over pretournament favorite Polson. The Broncs – and every other team – had to start action earlier than normal because Thursday’s first and second rounds were hit with multiple rain delays.
That didn’t stop Bennett and the rest of her Frenchtown teammates from being prepared.
“Actually, I was up at 5:30,” Bennett said. “I was in the lobby eating my waffles, having a good time, waiting for the game this morning.”
“They were all up before me, I swear it,” said Broncs coach Eli Field. “They were all down getting breakfast before me. I don’t think (the early games) made a difference, because they’ve been loose all weekend and they’re just having a blast. I told them last night ‘You play at 9 and they said, ‘Oh, that’s better than 8.’ That’s these kids. Frenchtown kids like tournaments.”
“We do real well at tournaments,” added Bennett. “We feel real strong this weekend. And we’re doing well. We’re expecting the best.”
With their two wins, the Broncs took one step closer to their second championship game appearance in three years. Hamilton topped last year’s state runner-up Libby, 5-3, in the other championship semifinal to set up an undefeated game between the two Central A rivals.
The all-Broncs contest starts at 9 a.m. The winner advances straight to the championship game, which begins at 1 p.m. A second title tilt starts at 3 p.m., if necessary. The loser-takes-fourth game, between Polson and Corvallis, is at the exact same time as the undefeated game. That winner jumps into the third-place game at 11 a.m. against the Hamilton-Frenchtown loser.
“It’s awesome for these girls,” said Hamilton coach Steve Weston. “That’s what state is all about: working hard every day, to get here. We have a long ways to go yet, but I’m proud of them so far.”
Polson and Corvallis kept their seasons alive with loser-out wins later in the day. The host Pirates, who won seven consolation games in taking the 2001 state crown, won three already after dropping the opener.
Frenchtown 1, Corvallis 0
Bennett’s fifth inning solo home run came as a surprise to everyone, but nonetheless was the key play of the game.
Trailing 0-2 in the count to Corvallis flame-thrower Kasie Conder, Bennett got another fastball and turned on it, just getting enough syrup on the ball to clear the center-field fence.
“It felt so good,” Bennett said. “I was so happy for us. We lost two times to them before during the season. It just feels good to come out and just win, even if it was by one, it just felt good.”
“Kali’s been hiding in the nine hole all year long,” Field said. “And that’s her fourth home run on the year. She’s got good pop and she’s got great hands and she’s a tremendous athlete. I think Conder made a mistake and Kali managed to get it over.
“That’s us, we are a hitting team. We’re not a short game team. I’ll sit around and wait for the home run.”
Both teams had half a dozen hits in the game. The only other critical moment came in the sixth, when a disputed ball-out-of-bounds call wiped a run off the board for the Blue Devils.
With Conder on first after a two-out single, Corvallis’ Markie Gurley grounded one to Frenchtown sophomore Kristy Kees at third base. Kees uncorked a wild throw that sailed over first baseman Lauren Lofts’ head. Conder rounded third and touched home, but was sent back to third by the umps.
“They got the call right,” Field said. “At the time of the pitch, the runner’s at first. At the time of throw, she has not attained second base, and it’s two bases. Ball crosses that white line, it’s dead.”
“It was close,” said Bennett, who didn’t like the idea of a tie game with Conder still pitching tough. “It would have been nerve-wrecking. There would have been a lot more pressure. It would have been a scary thing because (Conder) is a good pitcher, it’s hard to hit off of her.”
“To they’re credit they got it right,” said Blue Devils coach Rich Borden of the call. “I’m glad, that’s why they’re here.
Conder and Sam Nelson each went 2-for-3 for Corvallis, which won it’s earlier game 1-0 over Butte Central in 12 innings.
“That’s the way they’re supposed to be,” said Borden of one-run games. “I like being on the other end of ‘em, though.”
Frenchtown 000 010 0 – 1 6 1
Corvallis 000 000 0 – 0 6 0
Mandy Holloron and Kelly Engwall. Kasie Conder and Sam Nelson. W – Holloron. L – Conder.
FRENCHTOWN – Alex Duncan 1-4, Holloron 0-3, Noelle Lebsock 0-3, Shelby Russ 0-1, Kristy Kees 0-2, Engwall 2-3, Jennifer Chapman 0-3, Lauren Lofts 1-3, Kelly Reed 1-3, Kali Bennett 1-3.
CORVALLIS – Brianna Brawley 0-3, Jess Adair 0-3, Nelson 2-3, Conder 2-3, Markie Gurley 0-2, Megan Auch 1-3, Amber Bradshaw 0-3, Angie Henderson 1-3, Kylynn Pelkey 0-3.
2B-Duncan. HR-Bennett. RBI-Bennett.
Hamilton 5, Libby 3
The Broncs jumped out to a 4-0 lead then held on to beat the upset-minded Loggers in the other championship semifinal.
Hamilton junior pitcher Nicki Koning allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked none in recording her second win of the day. The Broncs, who had two fewer hits than Libby, were defensive-minded for sure.
Center fielder Rachell Wood made two diving catches to finish off the Loggers in the seventh. Wood’s last catch, which clipped the glove off her teammate Amanda Hood in right field, ended the game after Koning allowed a two-out double to Holly Cirian.
“We’ve played solid defensively all year,” Weston said. “Our hitting has started to come around here lately. But Nicki just pitched really well.”
The Loggers, who beat No. 1 seed Laurel on Thursday, rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth. The big blow came in the form of a two-out, two-run double by Nickole Lapka as Libby narrowed Hamilton’s lead to 4-3.
The Broncs broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the second. Hamilton pieced the big inning together, said Weston, but the big hit was a two-run double by Kelly Lokken.
“We singled it up, and there was a walk in the middle there,” Weston said. “We just manufactured some runs.”
Lokken also had an RBI single in the sixth to give the Broncs a two-run cushion going into the last inning. Sarah Callaghan joined Lokken going 2-for-3 with an RBI single.
Libby 000 030 0 – 3 7 2
Hamilton 040 001 x – 5 5 0
Brooke Hageness and Shelby Barton. Nicki Koning and Sarah Callaghan. W – Koning. L – Hageness.
LIBBY – Hageness 1-3, Nickole Lapka 1-3, Barton 1-3, Laice Dedrick 1-3, Megan Wedel 0-3, McKenzi Grotjohn 1-3, Sami Freebury 0-3, Christina Shilling 1-3, Holly Cirian 1-3.
HAMILTON – Terry Bryan 1-3, Chelsey Krueger 0-3, Jess Huseby 0-3, Rachell Wood 0-2, Callaghan 2-3, Koning 0-3, Kelly Lokken 2-3, Amanda Hood 0-3, Cierra Smith 0-1.
2B-Lapka, Cirian. Lokken. RBI-Lapka 2. Callaghan, Lokken 3, Smith.
Polson 13, Libby 5
After getting held to just one run in their first game of the day, the Pirates’ bats started heating up, including this 14-hit attack against their Western A rivals.
Polson had a six-run burst in the second inning to take a 9-1 lead on Libby in this elimination game.
Lindsey Rafter and Staci Benson each went 3-for-4 to lead the Pirates’ hit parade. Dylen Zetterberg was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Jaelin Vandeberg and Amanda James each drove in two runs. Sarah Newton added a three-run homer in the seventh, her third round-tripper in two games.
Polson used three pitchers in the game. Zetterberg worked the first four innings and got the win. Newton pitched the fifth. Libby rallied for four runs against Dakota Peterson in the seventh, but still couldn’t get close.
Laice Dedrick had a double and three RBIs to lead the Loggers. Shelby Barton went 2-for-4.
Polson 360 100 3 – 13 14 3
Libby 100 000 4 – 5 8 3
Dylen Zetterberg, Sarah Newton (5), Dakota Peterson (6) and Brit Jones. Brooke Hageness and Shelby Barton. W – Zetterberg. L – Hageness.
POLSON – Kyla McDonald 2-4, Zetterberg 2-4, Lindsey Rafter 3-4, Jaelin Vandeberg 1-4, Amanda James 1-4, Kendra Wolstad 0-2, Newton 1-4, Staci Benson 3-4, Maggie Gordon 0-4, Lela Clairmont-Perez 0-1, NaTesha Arlint 1-2, Peterson 0-1.
LIBBY – Hageness 1-4, Nickole Lapka 1-4, Barton 2-4, Laice Dedrick 1-4, Megan Wedel 1-4, McKenzi Grotjohn 1-4, Sami Freebury 1-3, Christina Shilling 0-3, Holly Cirian 0-3.
2B-Zetterberg, Rafter. Barton, Dedrick. 3B-Vandeberg. HR-Newton. RBI-Zetterberg 2, Rafter, Vandeberg 2, James 2, Newton 3. Lapka, Dedrick 3.
Corvallis 6, Laurel 1
Angie Henderson went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs as Corvallis and junior pitcher Kasie Conder mowed down Laurel in a loser-out contest.
The Blue Devils tallied 11 hits, four of which were doubles. Henderson, Megan Auch and Markie Gurley all had RBI doubles.
Conder, who pitched 26 innings on the day, struck out 13 opposing batters. She allowed just five hits and didn’t walk any Locomotive hitters.
Sam Ewalt had two hits, including a double. She scored the only run for Laurel, which had scored 34 runs in its two previous games.
Laurel 000 001 0 – 1 5 0
Corvallis 202 020 x – 6 11 0
Kirby Myers and Caitlyn Caron. Kasie Conder and Sam Nelson. W – Conder. L – Myers.
LAUREL – Same Ewalt 2-3, Katie Michunovich 0-2, Tiff Thomas 1-3, Brittany Ceaser 1-3, Myers 0-3, Caitlin Bummer 0-3, Caron 0-3, Jenna Reisinger 1-3, Brittney Sterna 0-2.
CORVALLIS – Brianna Brawley 2-4, Jess Adair 0-4, Nelson 1-4, Conder 1-4, Markie Gurley 2-3, Megan Auch 2-2, Amber Bradshaw 1-3, Angie Henderson 2-3, Kylynn Pelkey 0-1.
2B-Ewalt. Brawley, Gurley, Auch, Henderson. RBI-Thomas. Conder, Auch, Bradshaw, Henderson 2, Pelkey.
Polson 14, Butte Central 2
Newton exploded with two home runs – both during an 11-run sixth inning – and finished with seven runs batted in as Polson pounded Butte Central in an elimination game.
Newton hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in the sixth. Teammates Brit Jones and Staci Benson also homered in the game, which ended after the sixth.
Also, Kendra Wolstad was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Zetterberg got the win, while Newton closed it out. The two combined to allow just four hits by the Maroons.
Amber Orizotti went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Central.
Polson 100 11(11) – 14 15 1
Bu. Central 100 100 – 2 4 5
Zetterberg, Newton (6) and Jones. Kelli O’Leary and Brooke Pokorny. W – Zetterberg. L – O’Leary.
POLSON – McDonald 1-4, Zetterberg 1-4, Rafter 2-4, Vandeberg 2-4, James 2-4, Wolstad 2-4, Newton 2-4, Jones 1-4, Staci Benson 2-3, Maggie Gordon 0-1.
BUTTE CENTRAL – Pokorny 1-3, Kelci Thatcher 1-3, Kylie Orizotti 0-3, Amber Orizotti 2-3, O’Leary 0-3, Kacey Daily 0-3, Saidee Johnston 0-2, Julie Lally 0-3, Mairissa Peoples 0-2, Ashley Kasperick 0-1.
2B-McDonald, Rafter, Vandeberg, James, Wolstad. A. Orizotti. 3B-Zetterberg. HR-Newton 2, Jones, Benson. RBI-McDonald 2, Zetterberg, Vandeberg, Wolstad 2, Newton 7, Benson, Jones. A. Orizotti.
Laurel 11, Belgrade 1
The Locomotives poured on the runs as they eliminated Belgrade in six innings.
Sam Ewalt went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a run batted in to lead Laurel, which rapped 13 hits all told. The Locos, who beat Havre 23-3 earlier in the day, jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings then ended on the 10-run margin rule with a run in the bottom half of the sixth.
Myers went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and got the win. Tiff Thomas and Brittany Ceaser both hit home runs.
Belgrade 001 000 – 1 7 0
Laurel 430 211 – 11 13 3
Torres and Markham. Myers and Caron. W – Myers. L – Torres.
BELGRADE – Foster 2-3, Torres 0-2, Bell 0-3, Howard 2-3, Livermore 1-3, Markham 1-3, Erickson 0-2, Gue 0-3, Larsen 1-2.
LAUREL – Ewalt 3-4, Michonovich 1-3, Thomas 1-4, Ceaser 2-4, Myers 2-2, Bummer 1-3, Caron 1-3, Reisinger 1-3, Sterna 1-3.
2B-Ewalt, Myers, Sterna. HR-Thomas, Ceaser. RBI-Torres. Ewalt. Thomas 2, Ceaser, Myers 3, Bummer 2.
Hamilton 12, Columbia Falls 3
Rachell Wood and Sarah Callaghan provided the pop as Hamilton cruised past Columbia Falls in a second-round game that was resumed from Thursday’s rainout.
Wood was a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs scored and a run batted. Callaghan was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. The Broncs led 10-3 in the top of the sixth when the game was halted because of rain Thursday. The Wildkats had the bases loaded with one out, but Hamilton managed to get out of the jam to set the tone for a successful day.
Koning finished the game, which lasted just 10 minutes on Friday, to help the Broncs move into the championship bracket semifinal, which they won.
Columbia Falls was led by Vanesha Riley, who went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Col. Falls 100 002 0 – 3 7 2
Hamilton 412 212 x – 12 16 1
Johnson and James. Koning and Callaghan. W – Koning. L – Johnson.
COLUMBIA FALLS – Milliard 2-4, Nelson 1-4, Riley 2-3, James 1-3, Walter 0-2, Stinger 0-2, White 1-3, Venezio 0-1, C. Smith 0-2.
HAMILTON – Bryan 1-4, Krueger 1-3, Huseby 2-3, R. Wood 4-4, Callaghan 3-4, Koning 1-4, Lokken 1-4, Hood 3-3, Cierra Smith 0-3.
2B-Riley, James. Huseby, Wood, Callaghan 2, Koning, Lokken. RBI-James, Walter. Bryan, Krueger, R. Wood, Callaghan 4, Koning, Lokken.
Corvallis 1, Butte Central 0
Amber Bradshaw knocked in Megan Auch with the winning run in the bottom of the 12th.
Kasie Conder scattered six hits and held the Maroons scoreless.
Bu. Central 000 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
Corvallis 000 000 000 001 – 1 8 0
Battery not available
Butte Central – Brooke Pokorny 1-5, Kylie Orizotti 1-5, Kelei Thatcher 1-5, Amber Orizotti 1-5, Kelly O’Leary 1-5, Kacey Daily 1-5, Saidee Johnston 0-5, Julie Lally 0-5, Hannah Manion 0-4.
Corvallis – Briana Brandy 0-6, Jess Adair 1-6, Sam Nelson 0-6, Kasie Conder 1-6, Megan Auch 1-6, Markie Gurley 0-6, Amber Bradshaw 3-6, Angie Henderson 2-5, Kylynn Pellcey 0-5.
Frenchtown 9, Polson 1
Shelby Russ and Lauren Lofts slapped homers to power the Broncs past Polson in the completion of a game that began Thursday.
Mandy Holloron went the distance to get the win.
Lofts drove in three runs while Russ and Kelly Engwall knocked in two apiece.
Frenchtown 000 270 0 – 9 13 3
Polson 100 000 0 – 1 1 1
Mandy Holloron and Kelly Engwall. Dylen Zetterberg, Sarah Newton (5) and Brittany Jones.
Frenchtown – Alex Duncan 1-4, Holloron 2-4, Noelle Lebsock 2-4, Shelby Russ 2-4, Engwall 2-4, Jennifer Chapman 2-4, Lauren Lofts 2-4, Kelly Reed 0-3, Kali Bennett 0-3.
Polson – Kyla McDonald 1-3, Zetterberg 0-3, Lindsey Rafter 0-2, Jaelin Vandeberg 0-3, Amanda James 0-3, Kendra Woldstad 0-3, Newton 0-3, Jones 0-1, Staci Benson 0-0.
2B-Chapman, Lofts. HRs-Russ, Lofts. RBIs-Lebsock, Russ 2, Engwall 2, Lofts 3, Zetterberg.
Belgrade 17, Columbia Falls 14
Brittany Markham and Jillian Gue drove in four runs apiece in a game that featured 45 hits.
Belgrade led 17-8 entering the bottom of the seventh inning before the Wildkats rallied for six runs to make it close.
Brittany White drove home three for the Wildkats.
Belgrade 014 504 3 – 17 23 0
Columbia Falls 005 021 6 – 14 22 5
Battery not available
Belgrade – Kelsey Foster 3-5, Lauren Torres 0-1, Megan Bell 3-5, Krista Howard 2-4, Stephanie Livermore 2-5, Brittany Markham 4-5, Carrissa Erickson 2-3, Jillian Gue 3-3, Brittany Larsen 1-4, Amy Langendorf 2-4, Sarah Hultman 1-1.
Columbia Falls – Amanda Milliard 2-5, Lindsey Nelson 2-5, Vanesha Riley 1-5, Amber James 3-5, Drew Walters 2-2, Kayla Stinger 2-3, Brittany White 1-4, Sami Venezio 1-1, Jennie Johnson 4-4, Cedar Smith 4-5.
2B-Bell, Markham, Erickson, Gue 2, Milliard 2, Nelson, Riley, James, Johnson 2. 3B-Gue. HRs-Foster, Bell, Howard, Markham, Larsen. RBIs-Foster, Bell 2, Howard 2, Markham 4, Gue 4, Larsen 3, Langendorf, Milliard 2, Riley, James, Stinger, White 3, Johnson.
Laurel 23, Havre 2
Laurel scored 17 runs in the third inning to break the game open. The Locomotives banged out 26 hits.
Havre 10 0 10 – 2 5 0
Laurel 13(17) 2x – 23 26 0
Battery not available
Havre – Holly Cartwright 1-2, Samantha Mach 0-1, Katie McLeod 2-2, Steph Stremcha 1-2, Erika Briese 0-1, Danika Patterson 0-2, Stacy Sheppard 0-1, Jessica Obrecht 0-2, Tabby Myers 0-2, Abby Ita 0-0, Keli Kelsey 0-1, Tori Beck 0-2, Tyreyz Suraleer 0-1, Karly Evans 0-1, Natalee Kato 1-1, Tiffany Ranes 0-1.
Laurel – Sam Ewalt 3-4, Katie Michunovich 2-2, Tiff Thomas 3-4, Brittney Ceaser 2-2, Kirby Myers 0-3, Caitlin Bummer 3-3, Caitlyn Coras 3-3, Jenna Riesinger 3-4, Brittany Sterna 3-4, Olivia Heidinger 1-1, Katie Wood 1-1, Sara Parks 1-1, Jesse Engen 1-1, Liz Maybee 0-0, Jenna Griffin 0-0, Maddie Cebuhar 0-0.
2B-McLeod, Michunovich, Ceaser 2, Bummer 2, Coras 2, Riesinger, Sterna. 3B-Thomas. RBIs-Stremcha, Ita, Ewalt, Michunovich, Thomas 3, Ceasar 4, Bummer 3, Coras 3, Riesinger, Sterna 2, Parks, Engen.
Butte Central 3, Sidney 2
The Maroons scored twice in the top of the fifth and held on for the win in the loser-out game.
Bu Central 001 020 0 – 3 6 0
Sidney 010 001 0 – 2 9 1
Battery not available
Butte Central – Brooke Pokorny 2-3, Kylie Orizotti 0-3, Kelei Thatcher 0-3, Amber Orizotti 1-3, Kelly O’Leary 0-3, Kacey Daily 1-3, Saidee Johnston 1-3, Julie Lally 1-3, Hannah Manion 0-3.
Sidney – Kayla Fritz 1-4, Amanda Lorenz 0-4, Lexie Buxbaun 2-4, Natalie Robins 0-4, Jen Nelson 1-4, Kristy Obergfell 0-4, Sherron Lorenz 2-3, Meghan Fehlauer 1-3, Amanda Vanevery 2-3.
2B-Lorenz. RBIs-Fehlauer, Vanevery.
Polson 11, Billings Central 0
Staci Benson went 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs to lead Polson past the Rams.
Sarah Newton had a solo homer for the Pirates, who scored six times in the fifth inning to end the game via the 10-run margin rule.
Polson 040 16 – 11
Bi Central 000 00 – 0
Battery not available
Polson – Kyla McDonald 3-4, Dylen Zetterberg 4-4, Lindsey Rafter 1-3, Jaelin Vandeberg 1-4, Amanda James 1-3, Kendra Woldstad 1-2, Sarah Newton 3-3, Brittany Jones 2-3, Staci Benson 3-3.
Billings Central – Banielle Martinson 0-2, Brynn Burke 0-2, Brianne Rummel 2-2, Ashley Corcoran 0-3, Megan Smith 0-2, Beth Vogl 0-2, Shae Chilton 0-2, Amber Uzelac 0-2, Austin Hansen 0-2.
2B-Vandeberg, James, Benson. 3B-Woldstad. HRs-Newton. RBIs-Zetterberg 2, Rafter, Vandeberg 2, Newton, Benson 4.
Pirates rally to bust Broncs – State A softball
By NICK LOCKRIDGE of the Missoulian
POLSON – An outbreak of goose bumps was unleashed here Saturday.
The Polson girls’ softball team put together a seventh inning rally to beat Frenchtown 10-9 in one of the most riveting state finals – of any high school sport – in recent years.
Senior Dylen Zetteberg singled home courtesy runner Caitlyn Vassar with the winning run as the Pirates scored twice with two outs in their final at-bat to win the Class A state tournament on their home field.
The victory was in the second championship game of the day because Polson scored a 12-2 win over the Broncs in the first title tilt. It completed a seven-game run through the consolation bracket for the Pirates.
Polson, which finished the season with a 27-3 record, lost to Frenchtown in its first game of the tournament.
“You know, that first game we lost, it just kind of humbles you,” Zetteberg said. “We were a little ahead of ourselves maybe, but it just feels great to come back. We just worked extra hard and that makes it feel even better.”
It was Polson’s fourth state championship and the third in which it took the long road. In both 2001 and ’02, the Pirates hosted the three-day state tourney and wound up playing primarily in the consolation bracket. Polson won seven in a row to win its first title in ’01 and six straight elimination games to go back-to-back in ’02.
“In 2004 they did it in a sweep,” said a smiling Coach Larry Smith, “but that was boring.”
In all seriousness, Smith said he wasn’t the least bit concerned trailing by one run and heading into the seventh inning. Eight returning seniors had something to do with that.
“With this bunch,” Smith said, “if we still have one at-bat, I feel confident we can get it done.”
That they did. And the result was another one of the Pirates famous fire engine rides through town.
“We’ve won national championships and we’ve won state championships, as freshmen in high school and freshman year in ASA,” Zetteberg said, “but this is by far the toughest game I’ve played in and the most fun to play in.”
Polson started the day by eliminating Corvallis 4-0 and then beating Hamilton 6-4 in the loser-takes-third game.
Frenchtown (22-5) began the day by beating Hamilton 13-6 in the undefeated match, before losing two in a row to Polson for the state crown.
“The kids fought their (butts) off. They battled and came back and came back,” said Frenchtown coach Eli Field, fighting back tears. “It’s just tough when you teach them, because you have them for four years, and then you have to see them go.”
Polson 10, Frenchtown 9
There were five lead changes after the teams squared it at 1-1 through two innings, at which point most of the packed complex could tell it was going to be a doozy.
“That was a pretty damn good game,” Field said. “(Polson) came up with five and then what did we do? We put up six. Then they got two and then we got two. We got through the sixth inning and I was like, gosh we got them right where we want them.”
But after Frenchtown’s Mandy Holloron retired the leadoff batter in the seventh, Polson freshman Staci Benson doubled to put a runner in scoring position. After another fly out, Brittany Jones singled and Smith sent Vassar in to run for his catcher. A two-out single by senior Kyla McDonald knotted the game at 9-9, but that didn’t last long as Zetteberg sent the next pitch she saw back over the middle.
“What do you say. They’re a tough team to defend,” Field said. “They have eight or nine kids that have been doing this for four years. They know what they’re doing.
“If one of those pop-ups goes a little further or a little shorter. You’re just proud of your kids.”
The Broncs were poised to win their second State A title in three years behind a power-hitting display that included one of the wildest combination of home runs, ever, for one game.
Lauren Lofts crushed a two-run home run to the gap in left to give the Broncs a 9-8 lead in the sixth. Her hit was unique because on the previous pitch Polson left fielder Staci Benson nearly made a diving catch on the foul ball by the out-of-play line, which was lined with Pirate fans. The next batter doubled as Benson again nearly made a diving stab.
“It was upsetting,” Benson said. “I hustled to them, but didn’t really catch up to them. I felt like I had a good effort.”
That was not Benson’s first run-in with a fly ball.
In the fourth, Frenchtown’s Kelly Engwall hit a deep ball down the left field line, which Benson tracked down, but accidentally assisted Engwall’s two-run homer when the ball popped out of her glove and went over the outfield fence to give the Broncs a temporary 7-6 lead.
“She’s had a tremendous season and a tremendous tournament up to this point,” Smith said. “I know she’ll still have nightmares over that, I don’t know if she’ll ever forget them even though we won. I don’t know if that will help. But she’s just a competitor. That’s why I installed her into the lineup.”
Three batters before that, Kali Bennett belted a three-run homer to straightaway center field, where the Pirates’ Amber James had a glove on the ball before crashing into the chainlink fence. James’ arm whipped backward sending the ball to the nearby grass seats, just next to the Frenchtown fans holding the Bronc-colored bull’s-eye sign. James later left the game, but returned. Bennett, who was the hero in Friday’s 1-0 win over Corvallis, cut Polson’s lead to 6-4.
“Home runs happen,” said a raspy Zetteberg. “We just never gave up and that’s part of it.”
Polson got the runs right back when seniors Lindsey Rafter and Jaelin Vandeberg drove in runs in the fourth. McDonald led all hitters with a 4-for-4 effort. Zetteberg was 3-for-5. Rafter and senior Kendra Wolstad had RBI singles when the Pirates scored five times in the third to take a 6-1 lead.
Frenchtown, which beat Polson 9-1 in a second-round game Friday, was led by Bennett and Jennifer Chapman’s 3-for-4 efforts.
Ftown 010 602 0 – 9 16 2
Polson 105 200 2 – 10 14 2
Mandy Holloron and Kelly Engwall. Dylen Zetteberg,Sarah Newton (4) and Brittany Jones. W – Newton. L – Holloron.
FRENCHTOWN – Alex Duncan 0-5, Holloron 2-4, Noelle Lebsock 1-5, Engwall 2-3, Jennifer Chapman 3-4, Lauren Lofts 2-4, Kelly Reed 2-4, Kristy Kees 1-4, Kali Bennett 3-4.
POLSON – Kyla McDonald 3-5, Zetteberg 3-5, Lindsey Rafter 2-4, Jaelin Vandeberg 1-4, Newton 1-4, Kendra Wolstad 1-4, Staci Benson 1-4, Amanda James 0-3, Lela Clairmont-Perez 0-1, Jones 1-3, Maggie Gordon 0-0.
2B-Reed. Benson. HR-Bennett, Engwall, Lofts. RBIs-Lofts 3, Bennett 3, Engwall 2, Lebsock. Vandeberg 2, Rafter 2, Wolstad, Benson, McDonald, Zetteberg.
Polson 12, Frenchtown 2
Brittany Jones slapped a two-run single up the middle to cap a six-run rally by the Pirates in the bottom of the sixth inning as they used the 10-run margin rule to beat the Broncs in the first championship game.
Polson finished with just one more hit – 7 to 6 – than Frenchtown, but received a bunch of help from the 10 errors the Broncs heaped on themselves. Frenchtown had three errors in the final inning, including one that allowed two runs to score just before Jones’ game-clincher.
Neither team had an extra-base hit, but Jaelin Vandeberg was 2-for-4 with four runs batted in to lead the Pirates. Vandeberg had fielder’s choice RBIs in the first and third innings and run-scoring singles in the fourth and sixth. Her fourth-inning single gave Polson a 6-2 lead. Frenchtown committed two errors in that inning.
The Broncs committed two errors and fired a wild pitch to fall in a 4-0 hole in the third inning, when the Pirates scored three times to extend a 1-0 lead.
Holloron was the only Frenchtown player with multiple hits in the game. Lebsock and Chapman each had RBI singles in the fourth as the Broncs rallied within two runs, 4-2, of Polson.
Ftown 000 200 – 2 6 10
Polson 103 206 – 12 7 1
Holloron and Engwall. Zetteberg and Jones. W – Zetteberg. L – Holloron.
FRENCHTOWN – Duncan 1-3, Holloron 2-3, Lebsock 1-3, Russ 0-2, Kees 0-1, Engwall 0-3, Chapman 1-3, Lofts 0-3, Reed 1-2, Bennett 0-2.
POLSON – McDonald 1-4, Zetteberg 0-1, Rafter 1-2, Vandeberg 2-4, Newton 0-3, Wolstad 2-4, Benson 0-4, James 0-3, Jones 1-4.
RBIs-Lebsock, Chapman. Vandeberg 4, Zetteberg, Newton, Jones 2.
Polson 6, Hamilton 4
Polson scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to snap a 3-3 tie and eliminate Hamilton en route to the championship round.
With their bats quieted by Hamilton pitcher Nicki Koning, the Pirates got lucky when two fielding errors by the Broncs helped push across the winning runs. Polson loaded the bases in the sixth with a two-out single, a throwing error and an intentional walk. On the next batter, Koning dropped a routine pop-up to allow the go-ahead run to score. Benson followed with an infield RBI single and another run scored on a late throw to first base for a 6-3 lead.
Hamilton senior Jessica Huseby hit a one-out solo homer in the seventh, but the Broncs couldn’t add to it. Hamilton led briefly when it scored three times in the fourth. Terry Bryan had a two-run single to put the Broncs up 3-2.
Zetteberg had an RBI double and Rafter a run-scoring slap-bunt single in the first as Polson jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Pirates managed just six hits against Koning.
Koning finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI for Hamilton, which placed third in head coach Steve Weston’s final game. Weston announced earlier this season he was retiring. Chelsey Krueger was 2-for-4.
Hamilton 000 300 1 – 4 10 2
Polson 200 103 x – 6 6 0
Nicki Koning and Sarah Callaghan. Zetteberg and Jones. W – Zetteberg. L – Koning.
HAMILTON – Terry Bryan 1-4, Chelsey Krueger 2-4, Jessica Huseby 1-4, Rachell Wood 1-4, Callaghan 1-4, Koning 3-3, Kelly Lokken 1-3, Amanda Hood 0-2, Cierra Smith 0-3.
POLSON – McDonald 1-3, Zetteberg 1-3, Rafter 1-3, Vandeberg 0-3, James 1-3, Wolstad 1-2, Newton 0-2, Jones 0-3, Benson 1-3.
2B-Koning 2, Callaghan. Zetteberg. HR-Huseby. Wolstad. RBIs-Koning, Bryan 2, Huseby. Zetteberg, Rafter, Wolstad, Benson.
Frenchtown 13, Hamilton 6
Duncan, Chapman and Reed all finished 4-for-5 at the plate as Frenchtown outslugged Hamilton in the undefeated match.
The eventual runners-up advanced straight to the championship round with a big win over their Central A rivals. The all-Broncs contest had a combined 30 hits, but Frenchtown had 21 of those.
Frenchtown scored six runs on seven hits to take a 10-2 lead in the third inning. All of the hits were singles. Frenchtown had just three extra-base knocks in the game.
Reed hit a solo home run leading off the fourth and Holloron added a fielder’s choice RBI to make it 12-4.
Holloron got the win, but gave up a pair of two-run home runs to Rachell Wood in the first and Huseby in the third, to help Hamilton stay close. Wood and Huseby each went 2-for-4.
Ftown 406 210 0 – 13 21 1
Hamilton 202 020 0 – 6 9 3
Holloron and Engwall. Koning and Callaghan. W – Holloron. L – Koning.
FRENCHTOWN – Duncan 4-5, Holloron 0-4, Lebsock 1-5, Engwall 1-5, Chapman 4-5, Lofts 3-5, Reed 4-5, Kees 3-4, Bennett 1-4.
HAMILTON – Bryan 0-3, Krueger 1-3, Huseby 2-4, Wood 2-4, Callaghan 2-3, Koning 2-4, Lokken 0-3, Hood 0-3, Smith 0-3.
2B-Chapman, Lofts. Huseby, Callaghan. HR-Reed. Wood, Huseby. RBIs-Lofts 2, Reed 2, Kees , Bennett 2, Duncan, Lebsock, Engwall, Holloron. Wood 2, Huseby 2, Lokken, Smith.
Polson 4, Corvallis 0
The Pirates sent Corvallis packing behind a three-hit shutout by Zetterberg in the loser-takes-fourth game.
Kyla McDonald and Zetterberg each had a pair of singles to lead the Polson bats. Zetterberg accounted for two RBIs. Rafter added two sacrifices and drove in one.
Megan Auch doubled for the Blue Devils, who finished the season 19-7.
Loser takes fourth
Polson 102 010 0 – 4 5 0
Corvallis 000 000 0 – 0 3 0
Dylen Zetterberg and Sarah Newton. Kasie Conder and Sam Nelson. W – Zetterberg. L – Conder.
POLSON – Kyla McDonald 2-4, Zetterberg 2-3, Lindsey Rafter 0-1, Jaelin Vandeberg 0-3, Amanda James 0-3, Kendra Woldstad 0-3, Newton 0-3, Brit Jones 0-3, Staci Benson 1-3.
CORVALLIS – Brianna Brawley 0-2, Jessica Adair 0-3, Nelson 1-3, Conder 0-3, Markie Gurley 0-3, Megan Auch 1-3, Amber Bradshaw 0-3, Angie Henderson 1-3, Kylynn Pelke 0-3.
2B – Auch. RBIs – Zetterberg 2, Rafter, Vandeberg.