Polson senior catcher Jaylin Kenney (left) tags out Columbia Falls senior Tiffany Hummer (5) at the plate in the third inning Tuesday night during the Wildkats' loss to Polson at Columbia Falls High School. April 8, 2014 in Kalispell, Montana. (Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake)
COLUMBIA FALLS — The highly anticipated softball match up between Polson and Columbia Falls— who respectively finished second and third at last year’s state tournament—lived up to expectations as the Lady Pirates broke through in the top of the sixth inning to claim a 3-0 Northwestern A road victory on Tuesday evening.
Columbia Falls junior pitcher Ashley Trueblood held the Lady Pirates hitless and only allowed four baserunners until Jaiden Toth’s blooper to center field started a sixth inning rally.
Polson senior pitcher Jessica Bagnell hit a hard grounder in the hole and Wildkats shortstop Winter Kempapainen made a diving stop to keep the ball in the infield, but she could not retire Bagnell or Toth, who advanced to second.
Junior Kaelen Wall was next up for the Pirates and hit a line drive to right field which was quickly relayed by the Wildkats, forcing Polson head coach Larry Smith to hold Toth at third.
With the bases loaded, sophomore Hannah Potter drove in Toth and Bagnell with a base hit to center field.
Wall advanced to third on the play and Polson had runners on the corners with no outs.
After getting the signs from Coach Smith, senior Kyrie Bitterman executed a sacrifice bunt which rolled to a stop in front of Wildkats catcher Courtney Murray.
Wall, with a large secondary lead off third, bolted for home once Murray fired to first. The double play attempt to the plate was not in time and Wall scored making it 3-0 in favor of Polson.
That’s all Trueblood allowed however, getting Skyla Krantz to pop out to Wildkats third baseman Tiffany Hummer and striking out Lydia Dupuis.
“Outstanding,” Trueblood said of her team’s performance. “Up until the sixth inning we made every play and even in the sixth inning I’m not sure they were playable balls. The defense definitely came through.”
“I thought we played well on the defensive end, but we started out batting slow,” Columbia Falls head coach Dave Kehr said. “We didn’t come out well at the plate. (Polson) made some great plays in the outfield and made it tough to score. We just need to keep working offensively, but I thought overall the girls played pretty well.”
Columbia Falls had plenty of opportunities to score prior to the sixth, but couldn’t capitalize.
The third inning saw a wild turn of events after a line drive up the middle from Hummer.
Teammate Carlee Brown bunted and an errant throw to first allowed her to reach safely as Hummer took off for third.
The Pirates throw from right field sailed over third base and Hummer turned the corner looking to score.
She slid into home plate, feet first, but the throw from behind third base hit Polson catcher Jaylin Kenney in the chest and she tagged Hammer before she could touch the plate, ending the inning.
The Wildkats had an even better opportunity in the fourth.
Columbia Falls first baseman Amanda Morrison hit a rocket up the middle and advanced to second when Murray, the next batter, reached first on an error. Kate Price’s bunt was placed perfectly leading to an infield single that loaded the bases for the Wildkats with nobody out.
Bagnell struck out her eighth batter of the night as Samantha Collins went down swinging for the first out of the inning.
Hummer, Columbia Falls’ lead off hitter, worked a full count on Bagnell before hitting a sinking line drive to left field.
Morrision sprinted home, but was doubled up at third when Polson left fielder Kyrie Bitterman came charging in and made a diving catch on Hummer’s hit—stunning the crowd and the Wildkats.
“Mentally, Jessica can let things go pretty easily. She stays at ease,” Coach Smith said of Bagnell pitching out of the jam. “She knows she has fantastic defense behind her. We’ve got a super outfield. Those three gals can fly around and close a gap pretty quickly and we saw that today.”
Bagnell, who struck out nine batters in her complete game shut out, said she felt good in the circle and was in control of her pitchers, but she was grateful for the defensive effort the Lady Pirates displayed, which included another diving grab by right fielder Lydia Dupuis.
“Our outfield saved us today,” Bagnell said. “We played better defensively and we’re getting better as a whole.”
The Wildkats will look to get back on track against Whitefish on Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Polson will compete at the Belgrade Invitational this weekend.
Polson 000 003 0 — 3 5 3
Columbia Falls 000 000 0 — 0 6 1
Jessica Bagnell and Jaylin Kenney. Ashley Trueblood and Courtney Murray. W — Bagnell. L — Trueblood
WHITEFISH — Libby continued its strong start to the season with a shutout over Whitefish in a Northwestern A conference game.
Mahalah Wedel went 3 for 3 from the plate and Devon Gallagher went 3 for 4 and the pair combined for three RBIs as the Loggers easily outpaced the Bulldogs. Hannah England surrendered just three hits while picking up the win.
Libby 103 25 — 11 8 0
Whitefish 000 00 — 0 3 7
Hannah England and Devon Gallagher. Halle Reading and Malia Morris. W - England. L - Redding.
Loggers pounded the Whitefish Bulldogs on Tuesday 11-0 in five innings.
Loggers scored five runs in the fifth on an error, an RBI single by Mahalah Wedel, a two-run error, and a wild pitch.
Loggers' Mahalah was perfect at the dish, going 3-3.
Loggers' Hannah England kept the Whitefish Bulldogs off the scoreboard for all five innings she was on the rubber. She pitched a shutout, allowing no opposing players to cross the plate on three hits while ringing up seven.
The game was never in doubt after the first, as Loggers scored one run on.
Loggers tacked on another two runs in the fourth. A wild pitch scored Brooke Rosling for the inning's first run. That was followed up by Devon Gallagher's single, plating Mahalah.
Libby 11, Whitefish 0
Libby …103 25 — 11 8 0
Whitefish …000 00 — 0 3 7
Hannah England and Devon Gallagher. H. Redding and M. Morris. W - England. L - Redding.
Lewistown’s Cassi Miller played Home Run Derby on Tuesday at Stewart Park, but Billings Central got the vital hits -- and the essential runs -- to overcome the long ball.
From leadoff hitter Aubrey Walter down to No. 9 batter Maggie Meyer, the Rams received contributions throughout their lineup for a 10-7 victory. They scored six runs in the second inning to build an early lead, then held on as pitcher Molly Day closed the door.
“We always talk about having confidence at the plate, and I think we did that tonight,” said Central catcher Addy Daubert.
Daubert’s RBI double off the top of the fence in center was one of the key hits of the Rams’ second-inning outburst. Walter had another, hitting a double to bring in Meyer from third.
Meyer tripled earlier to lead off the inning. She was so aggressive on the base paths that she daringly ran through a stop sign at second base from coach Coleman Rockwell. But she beat the throw and put her team in a good position.
“The Maggie Meyer hit was a big hit,” said Rockwell, whose team improved to 2-1. “I had her holding at second, but she wasn’t stopping. That kind of got us going. I thought that was the start of a big inning. But everybody hit the ball well.”
Central was up 8-2 entering the top of the third, but that’s when Miller blasted the first of her two long home runs over the left-center field fence. Miller’s second homer -- they were both two-run shots -- brought Lewistown within 8-7 in the fifth.
But the Rams scored two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, including one on an infield single from Mackenzie Redman. Day, who had 16 strikeouts in a victory last weekend, finished with seven Ks and got out of the sixth and seventh innings unscathed to finish with another win.
Lewistown scored twice in the top of the first to gain an edge, but were burned by a three errors on top of Central’s timely hitting. The Rams scored twice in the bottom half of the first to tie the game.
“We got back into it,” said Lewistown coach Mike Mangold. “There were a few bloopers that scooted through us at crucial times that killed us, and we also shot ourselves in the foot with some unforced errors.
“I’ve been stressing to the girls that the team that plays better defense is going to win the game, and we just didn’t play better defense.”
Redman and Morgan Smith each had two RBIs for the Rams. Miller, who pitched 5 1/3 innings for Lewistown before being relieved by Maddie Comes, finished 3 for 3 and had five RBIs.
Miller "doesn’t chase bad pitches," Rockwell said. "She’s looking for her pitch. She waited for the ball that was in her spot, and then they went out. Really good discipline.”
Billings Central 10, Lewistown 7
Lewistown …202 030 0 — 7 6 3
Central …260 002 x — 10 9 2
Cassi Miller, Maddie Comes (6) and Karlie Southworth. Molly Day and Addie Daubert. WP: Day. LP: Miller.
Lewistown — Teale Danell 2-3, Karlie Southworth 0-3, Maddie Comes 1-2, Cassi Miller 3-3, Jessica Kindzerski 0-3, Jessica Gapay 0-2, Hannah Weeden 0-2, Shelby Alexander 0-3, Ali Gremaux 0-2, Paige Towne 0-1, Nora Weichel 0-3, Mikayla Comes 0-0, Maria Henderson 0-0, Carley Carpenter 0-0. 2B: Danell, M. Comes. HR: Miller 2. RBIs: Miller 6, M. Comes.
Billings Central — Aubrey Walter 1-3, Molly Day 0-3, Skylar Rockwell 1-4, Addie Daubert 2-4, Allison Walter 1-4, Mackenzie Redman 2-3, Morgan Smith 0-2, Sam McNeely 1-3, Maggie Meyer 1-3, Josie Snyder 0-0. 2B: Au. Walter, Daubert. 3B: Meyer. RBIs: Redman 2, Smith 2, McNeely 2, Au. Walter, Daubert.
Madison Jahner was untouchable on Tuesday, throwing a no-hitter in DHS Softball's 10-0 victory over Sydney High School.
No Sydney High School batter was able to locate Madison's pitches during the game. Madison threw a no-hitter, striking out seven batters and walking two while recording her momentous feat. She got Maddison DiFonzi to strike out for the final out of the game.
Seven runs in the first three innings helped DHS Softball blow out Sydney High School. A solo home run by Mackee Hoffmann during the first inning and a two-run double by Rachel Jahner and an RBI single by Riana Cooper in the second inning supplied the early offense for DHS Softball.
DHS Softball was led by Mackee's hitting. Mackee went 2-4, drove in one and scored one run.
Lacee Giddens was the game's losing pitcher. She allowed 10 runs in five innings, walked two and struck out one.
DHS Softball scored three runs in the third inning, and then followed it up with three more in the fifth. In the third, DHS Softball scored on an error, bringing home Avery Privratsky.
Sierra Rohr doubled, scoring Avery to start the inning.