TRACK AND FIELD
TRACK AND FIELD
NWMT 'A' LINKS
POLSON SOFTBALL SEASON PREVIEW
March 26, 2014Northwest Montana A Conference
Coach: Larry Smith (27th season)
2013 result: 25-3 (lost in Class A state championship)
Returning starters: 5
Polson’s softball team always seems to reload.
“Our kids seem to step in there and just pick up where they left off,” coach Larry Smith said. “…That tradition carries a lot of weight here in Polson.”
Despite losing four starters, including Montana’s all-time winningest pitcher in Shalaina Duford, the Pirates are poised for another season looking down on the rest of Class A.
The biggest question mark, obviously, will be pitching. Smith expects senior Jessica Bagnell to take over in the circle, but coming off elbow surgery at the end of last season, Bagnell’s health will be one of the Pirates’ biggest concerns.
If Bagnell is unable to pitch, Smith said he has four freshman pitchers from which to choose.
“As usual, our program has developed them young, and they’ll come in and do a fine job,” he said. “There’s one or two that I feel can step up and pitch right away for the varsity.”
The Pirates’ lineup is less of a mystery. All-state catcher Jaylin Kenney, a senior who led the 2013 team in batting average (.471) and stolen bases (13), will be a spark plug at the top of the order. Bagnell and juniors Jaiden Toth (CF), Kaelen Wall (1B/OF), Skyla Krantz (2B), Taylor Brackey (3B/IF) and Sarah Rausch (Util.) are all strong at the plate.
Sophomore Hannah Potter (SS/2B) started quite a bit last season, and speedsters Kyrie Bitterman (senior) and Lydia Dupuis (sophomore) should round out the Pirates’ lineup.
“We’re going to be very strong defensively, and we should be offensively as well,” Smith said. “… We’ve got exceptional speed all the way around.”
Although they are set up for another successful season, Smith said his girls can’t take anything for granted. The Northwest A, he said, is the state’s toughest softball conference without a doubt. Defending champion Frenchtown returns its core from 2013.
“They’re like us,” Smith said. “They just keep coming in.”
Columbia Falls and Libby should also be very competitive.