2012 State Champions


State Class A Softball

Anaconda – Thursday-Saturday, May 24-26, 2012

Frenchtown – Monday, May 28, 2012

Polson wins State A softball crown for third straight year

By BILL SPELTZ of the Missoulian

FRENCHTOWN – With three fingers held high, the Polson softball team savored a slice of state tournament paradise on Monday night.

The Pirates became the first team in 19 years and only the second in Montana history to capture three straight Class A titles, motoring to an 8-3 win over Belgrade. They joined Libby on the elite list of three-peaters, with the Loggers accomplishing the feat in 1991-93.

“It’s amazing – one of the best memories I’ll have for the rest of my life,” said Makaliah Wilson, who put the Pirates up for good and opened up the flood gates with a run in the sixth inning that broke a 2-2 tie. “Definitely as a senior and definitely with going for a three-peat, there was a lot of pressure on us. But we pulled through.”

Earning a state title on Frenchtown’s field made Monday a tad bit surreal for the Pirates. Junior pitcher Shalaina Duford woke up Monday morning figuring her team was headed back to Anaconda after playing its way into the title round on Saturday and then coming home when inclement weather forced what proved to be a 48-hour delay.

“It was absolute torture,” Duford said of the idle time prior to Monday’s finale. “Laying in bed trying to fall asleep and just envisioning what the game could be like, how it could go. … But it was worth it. I’m up at 7 in the morning today ready to go to Anaconda and then it’s nope, Frenchtown.”

Duford and her Pirates (21-5) struggled out of the chute, allowing two runs in the top of the first inning. They answered right away in the bottom of the first, with Heidi Rausch hammering a two-run home run over the left field fence.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when Belgrade collapsed under Polson’s base-running pressure. Wilson drew a leadoff walk and moved up on a passed ball. One out later, leadoff hitter Ashley Johnson beat out a slap single and Belgrade’s first baseman made an unwise decision to try to peg Wilson as she rounded third.

The ball sailed past the third baseman and Wilson scooted home to make it 3-2.

“I just went a few steps off and they just had a bad throw,” explained Wilson. “I was a little surprised they threw it over but I was ready to go.”

Riley Kenney followed with a single and moved up to give Polson runners on second and third. Yet for all its troubles, Belgrade still appeared as if it might make it out of the inning with minimal damage after recording a second out.

Then the Panthers fell apart at the seams. Johnson scored on a passed ball. Rausch drew an intentional walk and was one of two Pirates to come home on a Jessica Bagnell double. Bagnell later scored when Belgrade’s shortstop made an errant throw to third.

“We just always realize we need to power through at the end and when it gets close everybody just digs deep and finds it in their heart to play their best,” Duford said.

When the dust cleared, the Pirates had piled up six runs on five hits and taken advantage of three Panthers errors. Belgrade answered with a run in the top of the seventh. But Polson was not to be denied a seventh state championship under 25-year coach Larry Smith.

“What you saw in that particular (sixth) inning is what we do – when we get baserunners on I want aggressive baserunning,” Smith said. “I want (the opponent) throwing the ball. When they did they made mistakes and paid for it.”

What made this year’s state title extra special for Smith is the way his team overcame adversity. The Pirates started off 2-3 in Northwestern A conference play and there was some question whether they would even make the state tournament.

“That’s what makes you a champion and I thought that’s what propelled us in this tournament,” said Smith, whose team did not lose a game at state. “Our whole last month we couldn’t afford to lose another game. That was the reason when we got to state, we were so powerful and strong. We had already been tested, every game.”

Four Pirates finished with a pair of hits, including Rausch, Bagnell, Riley Kenney and Jaylin Kenney. Kristina West had two hits for Belgrade.

While the list of Polson heroes is lengthy, there is no question Duford is the straw that stirs the drink. She has pitched her team to three straight state crowns and there’s no reason to believe that streak will halt in 2013.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Duford said. “We started off with a rough season and everybody made it a point to work their butt off in practice every day. The three-peat was what we wanted and we achieved it.”

Belgrade 200 000 1 – 3 6 5

Polson     200 006 x – 8 11 2

Justine Taylor and Annie Prickett. Shaliana Duford and Jaylin Kenney. W – Duford. L – Taylor.

BELGRADE – Justine Taylor 1-3, Kristina West 2-4, Morgan Wandler 1-4, Taylor Johnson 1-1, Taylor Hill 1-4, Prickett 0-3, Allison Alstrom 0-3, Joey Severson 0-3, Autumn Rollins 0-2.

POLSON – Ashley Johnson 1-4, Riley Kenney 2-4, Duford 1-4, Heidi Rausch 2-4, Jessica Bagnell 2-4, J. Kenney 2-4, Tina Marquardt 1-4, Makaliah Wilson 0-4, Sarah Rausch 0-2, Jaiden Toth 0-1.

2B – Bagnell. HR – Rausch. RBIs – Rausch 2, Bagnell 2, Marquardt

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Polson, Frenchtown could collide again at State A

ANACONDA – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Frenchtown and Polson are on a collision course at the State A softball tournament.

Frenchtown won its only game of the day and Polson won twice on Thursday at the Charlotte Yeoman Fields.

The Broncs (22-1) advanced to the winners’ bracket semifinals where they will face Lewistown on Friday at 2 p.m. Polson (18-5) advanced to face Hamilton (11-12), which survived a 15-14 shootout with Billings Central to advance.

The winners of those games will meet Saturday at 9 a.m. with a berth in the title game on the line.

Polson, the two-time defending state champ, had to beat Frenchtown twice on the final day of last year’s state tournament to secure the crown.

Polson 10, Anaconda 0

Heidi Rausch homered and drove in a pair of runs to help lift the Pirates past the Copperheads in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run margin rule.

Shalaina Duford shut out the Copperheads on three hits and also doubled.

Riley Kenney doubled among her three hits and drove home a pair for the two-time defending state champs. Ashley Johnson and Jaylin Kenney added a pair of hits.

First round

Polson       220 51 – 10 12 0

Anaconda 000 00 – 0 3 3

Shalaina DuFord and Jaylin Kenney. Brooke Chapman and Courtney Moodry.

POLSON – Ashley Johnson 2-4, Riley Kenney 3-4, DuFord 1-4, Martina Marquart 0-3, Heidi Rausch 2-3, J. Kenney 2-3, Jessica Bagnell 1-1, Makaliah Wilson 0-3, Jaiden Toth 1-3.

ANACONDA – Moodry 0-2, Karli King 0-2, B. Chapman 1-3, Lauren Bolton 1-1, Abby Stanberry 0-2, Ali Forkan 0-2, Delanie Chapman 0-2, Hannah Anderson 1-2, Julia Peterson 0-2.

2B – R. Kenney, DuFord. HR – Rausch. RBI – R. Kenney 2, Rausch 2, Johnson, DuFord, Marquart.

Polson 8, Belgrade 4

Kenney’s two-run homer highlighted a five-run seventh inning that carried the Pirates to the win.

Kenney also tripled in a 4-for-5 day at the plate.

Ashley Johnson banged out three of Polson’s 13 hits to back the pitching of Duford.

Belgrade, which led 4-2 through four innings, got two hits from Taylor Hill.

Polson and Hamilton met twice during the regular season with the Pirates winning 17-1 on April 19 and 15-1 on May 5.

Second round

Polson     200 010 5 – 8 13 2

Belgrade 004 000 0 – 4 6 2

Shalaina DuFord and Jaylin Kenney. Justine Taylor and Marina Layman. W – Duford. L – Taylor.

POLSON – Ashley Johnson 3-5, Riley Kenney 4-5, DuFord 1-5, Martina Marquardt 1-4, Heidi Rausch 1-2, J. Kenney 1-4, Jessica Bagwell 2-4, Makaliah Wilson 0-4, Jaiden Toth 0-3.

BELGRADE – Taylor 1-4, Kristina West 1-3, Morgan Wandler 1-3, Taylor Johnson 0-3, Annie Prickett 1-2, Allison Alstrom 0-3, Joey Severson 0-3, Autumn Rollins 0-3, Taylor Hill 2-3.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pirates hammer Hamilton

The Daily Inter Lake

ANACONDA — The Polson Pirates got off to a slow start, but they put together a heck of a finish at the Class A state softball tournament on Friday.

Polson gave up three runs right away to the Hamilton Broncs, but rallied for a 25-3 undefeated quarterfinal victory and a spot in today’s undefeated game against Northwestern A rival Frenchtown.

Estimated time for for that game is 10 a.m. today in Anaconda, weather permitting.

Officials suspended play at the Charlotte Yeoman-Martin Softball Complex at 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Montana High School Association director Mark Beckman held a meeting after play was suspended and announced that tournament officials will attempt to restart the tournament at 8:30 a.m. today.

Games that were in progress will resume at that time.

“I was very impressed, especially the way it started. (Hamilton) came out with four hits,” Smith said.

After the Broncs scored their three runs, Smith admitted he “was a little bit concerned when our leadoff hitter got put out.”

But the Pirates followed that out with a couple of walks, then had a couple of hits — and then the dam broke.

“The hits started coming. We just bombarded them,” Smith said.

The Pirates scored six runs in the bottom of the first, then scored another 11 in the second inning.

Polson finished with 16 hits — and Hamilton never got another hit.

“That was the last of it. Shay (Duford) shut them down from there,” he said.

A mid-inning talk with Duford may have helped out, the coach said.

It snowed the entire game and Duford, who is of small stature, was bundled up.

After their visit, she took some of the layers off. “She had a great game, even hit a home run,” he said.

He also praised the efforts of Martina Marquardt.

“She’s been batting No. 4 for us all year long and she was struggling a little bit, pyschologically, I thought.”

She moved down to the sixth slot for Friday’s game.

“Boy, did she ever come through!” said Smith.

Marquardt was 3-for-3 with a home run.

Undefeated Quarterfinals

Polson 25, Hamilton 3

Hamilton 300 00 — 3 4 2

Polson       6(11)4 4x — 25 16 0

Rebecka Hood and Candice Dunagan. Shalaina DuFord and Jaylin Kenney.

HAMILTON — R. Hood 0-2, Kendra Newton 1-3, Nichole Hood 1-3, Dunagan 1-2, Taylor Goligoski 1-2, Shaylan Mohn 0-3, Tayler Reynolds 0-1, Rebecca Lyons 0-1, McKayl Rothie 0-2.

POLSON — Ashley Johnson 2-3, Riley Kenney 1-4, DuFord 2-2, Heidi Rausch 2-2, J. Kenney 1-3, Martina Marquardt 3-3, Jessica Bagnell 3-5, Makaliah Wilson 2-2, Colleen Jacobson 0-4, Jaiden Toth 0-0.

HR — DuFord, Marquardt.

Saturday, May 26, 2010

Polson’s title hopes on hold

The Daily Inter Lake

ANACONDA — The Polson Pirates are in their third straight Class A state softball championship.

But …

Games wound up being suspended late Saturday due to weather conditions at the Charlotte Yeoman-Martin Softball Complex.

The Pirates are scheduled to take on Belgrade at 2 p.m. Monday in Anaconda.

Riley Kenney was 3-for-4 and Shalaina Duford and Ashley Johnson were both 2-for-4 as the Pirates rolled Frenchtown 9-2 in Saturday’s undefeated semifinal.

“We were hitting their pitcher right away,” said Pirate coach Larry Smith.

“First inning, we scored two on them and left a couple base runners.”

And Shalaina Duford had a fantastic game — 10 strikeouts, no walks, seven hits and one hit batsman.

“We played errorless ball until the last inning,” Smith said.

The Pirates had one little bobble in the seventh inning, but other than that, “it was almost a perfect game for us,” he said.

They waited around the rest of the day to find out who they would play in the championship.

They were a little disappointed when the game was moved — Belgrade had played four times on Saturday and the Panthers were cold, wet and tired.

The Pirates still feel good about their chances.

They got 13 hits on the Panthers in their 8-4 victory in Thursday’s second round.

“We’re still feeling very confident. We’re hitting the ball really well.”

Undefeated Semifinal

Polson 9, Frenchtown 2

Ftown  002 000 0 — 2 7 1

Polson 200 700 x — 9 10 1

Abby Indreland and Madison McGuire. Shalaina DuFord and Jaylin Kenney.

FRENCHTOWN – Katie Kees 2-4, Kaitlyn Indreland 0-4, Keller Leishman 2-4, A. Indreland 0-4, McGuire 0-3, Sarah Lester 1-3, Kayla Weishaar 1-1, Josie Anderson 0-1, Holly Jacobs 0-3, Emma Oostdyk 1-3, Morgan Ray 0-0.

POLSON – Ashley Johnson 2-4, Riley Kenney 3-4, DuFord 2-4, Heidi Rausch 0-2, J. Kenney 1-4, Martina Marquardt 0-3, Jessica Bagnell 0-2, Makaliah Wilson 1-3, Jaiden Toth 1-3.

=====================more stories =========================

Pirates chase gold at State A; delayed by weather


ANACONDA – The Polson Pirates had the Belgrade Panthers just where they wanted them.

And then the bad weather moved in.

Two-time defending champion Polson downed Northwestern A rival Frenchtown, 9-2, in the undefeated game to move into the championship of the State A softball tournament Saturday at the Charlotte Yeoman fields.

Then the Pirates waited around to see who’d they face.

Belgrade won four straight games in the losers’ bracket – ending the season for both Frenchtown and Columbia Falls – to earn its way back to the title game.

Rather than being forced to play a fifth and possibly a sixth game on Saturday against Polson, the foul weather moved in and forced the title game to be postponed until Monday, when both teams will return rested.

The teams will square off at 2 p.m. on Memorial Day in Anaconda. Polson (20-5) needs just one win to take its third straight title and seventh since 2001; Belgrade would need to win twice.

Polson 9, Frenchtown 2

A seven-run fourth inning sealed the deal for the Pirates in the undefeated game, sending Frenchtown into the losers’ bracket.

Polson led 2-0 after one inning, but the Broncs knotted the game at 2-2 through three. Polson then erupted for the big inning and held the Broncs scoreless the rest of the way.

Riley Kenney was 3 for 4 for the Pirates and teammates Ashley Johnson and Shalaina Duford added two hits apiece.

Duford went the distance in the circle for the win.

Katie Kees and Keller Leishman each had a pair of hits for Frenchtown, which dropped just its second game of the season.

Undefeated game

Ftown 002 000 0 – 2 7 1

Polson 200 700 x – 9 10 1

Abby Indreland and Madison McGuire. Shalaina DuFord and Jaylin Kenney. W – Duford. L – Indreland (15-2).

FRENCHTOWN – Katie Kees 2-4, Kaitlyn Indreland 0-4, Keller Leishman 2-4, A. Indreland 0-4, McGuire 0-3, Sarah Lester 1-3, Kayla Weishaar 1-1, Josie Anderson 0-1, Holly Jacobs 0-3, Emma Oostdyk 1-3, Morgan Ray 0-0.

POLSON – Ashley Johnson 2-4, Riley Kenney 3-4, DuFord 2-4, Heidi Rausch 0-2, J. Kenney 1-4, Martina Marquardt 0-3, Jessica Bagnell 0-2, Makaliah Wilson 1-3, Jaiden Toth 1-3.

Blasts from the Past

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