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April 1, 2014
Northwest Montana A Conference


Billings Central

Coach: Coleman Rockwell, 6th season (91-27)

Last year: 18-5

At state: 1-2

Returning starters: Mackenzie Redman, Sr., OF; Addy Daubert, Jr., C; Allison Walter, Jr., OF; Molly Day, Jr., 1B/P; Skylar Rockwell, Jr., SS.

Others to watch: Sammy McNeely, Sr., INF; Morgan Smith, Jr., INF; Macy Rockwell, Jr., OF; Jessie Schmitz, So., OF; Maggie Meyer, So., C/DP; Sierra Real Bird, So., OF; Aubrey Walter, Fr, INF.

Noteworthy: Skylar Rockwell is the top returning hitter with a .434 average. She was named second-team all-conference. … Daubert and Day made second-team all-conference as well. Daubert batted .412, while Day hit .362. … Walter returns with a .388 average and Redman batted .368 last year. … The graduated Alexa Rockwell pitched the vast majority of the team’s innings last season. Macy and Skylar Rockwell, along with Day will be among those looking to eat up innings this season.

Coach Rockwell says: “We’ve got a good mix of incoming freshmen to go with the nucleus of the returning players. We’ve probably got four pitchers who can step in and do a good job for us. They’ll be thrown to the wolves a little bit, but I think they’ll be fine.”


Coach: Greg Branstetter, 17th season (238-111)

Last year: 11-11

At state: 1-2

Returning starters: Ayla Grandpre, Sr., OF; Maurissa Gunn, Sr., OF; Katie Williams, Sr., 2B; Kylie Goodson, Sr., SS; Hailey Spitzer, Jr., C; Brianne Jones, Jr., P.

Others to watch: Cadie Frickel, Sr., OF; Sadie Kincl-Garay, Jr., OF; Paige Hodges, So., P/3B ; Brenna Kanta, So., C; Kaylee Wommack, So., 1B; Jade Spooner, So., OF; Hailee Bennett, Fr., OF; Dakota Boehler, Fr., P/SS; Marcie Kincl-Garay, Fr., 2B; Kylee Hergenrieder, Fr., C; Kallie Linse, Fr., P/INF; Hailey Maurer, Fr., P/OF.

Noteworthy: Grandpre was first-team all-conference last season after batting a team-high .453. … Gunn was second-team all-conference while hitting .430. … Williams (.324) and Goodson (.306) also batted over .300. … The Locomotives hit .352 as a team. … Jones went 10-10 in the circle, meaning she accounted for 20 of the team’s 22 decisions.

Coach Branstetter says: “I think a big key is some of our freshmen coming up and hitting the ball. From what I’ve seen in batting practice, they’re going to. I still expect the returners to do what they did last year. It was a big step for our pitchers last year. They’d never pitched a varsity game before. I think our pitching depth is going to be a big plus for our team this year.”

— Compiled by Mike Scherting


New faces front Sidney fast-pitch squad

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 6:30 pm

With seasons changing, if at least just on the calendar, Sidney’s softball team is gearing up for a new season, complete with a young roster and newly appointed head coach.

“We are a very young team with very little varsity experience. However, we have some good athletes that should fit into some spots and help our team,” head coach Damon McLaughlin said of the Lady Eagles.

Last season, the Sidney team graduated some talented players in Colleen Crosby, Abby Balcer, Tori Getchell, Abigail Haraldson, Morgan Thiel and Ashley Bjork. Senior leaders on last year’s squad included: Thiel led the team with a .463 batting average; Bjork had the highest slugging percentage at .684; Balcer led Sidney with two home runs and eight doubles; and Getchell had 19 RBIs.

Thiel was named to the All-State team in the Eastern A as first time utility. Honorable mentions for last year’s seniors included Getchell in the outfield and Balcer at catcher. Bjork was named second team All-Conference on third base.

Despite missing a talented core of seniors, the Eagles have a pool of talent returning to the field including Holly Papineau, a junior, who led the team with a .500 on-base percentage. She was an honorable mention on first base in All-State selections last season. Behind Thiel, she had a .429 batting average to lead Sidney last season.

Mikayla Verhasselt brings back varsity playing time as a sophomore. She led the Eagles with two triples, and as a freshman, she had 12 runs and 10 RBIs.

One of the most frustrating things so far in the preseason, however, remains to be the inclement weather that stalls outside practices.

“At this time, we have nobody in set positions as we have been working very hard at getting fundamentals down,” McLaughlin said. “The season is so short, getting prepared is a challenge.”

McLaughlin and the Eagles have been sticking it out thus far in the early going.

“Practices so far have been held outside. It has been really cold at times, but the girls have done a good job focusing on what we need to get done,” McLaughlin said.

With a majority of the members of this year’s varsity squad being a bit green and winter weather putting a damper on the early season, McLaughlin is confident minor setbacks won’t stop the girls from competing at a high level.

“With all this said, my expectations for the team is to compete every game and work hard every day at getting better.” 

The Eagles play amongst tough, competitive teams in the Eastern A with the likes of Glendive, Miles City, Hardin, Billings Central and Laurel.

“I am sure our conference will be tough, and we will have to play well to get past anyone,” McLaughlin said. “Laurel and Billings Central are always powerhouses, and I would think this year would be no different. Miles City, Hardin and Glendive have excellent programs as well, and I expect them to be tough competition.”

The Eagles closed out last season with a 5-5 conference and a 10-8 overall record.

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