Only three softball teams in western Montana have maintained a perfect record through the first three weeks of the season. Two of those are defending state champions; the third is the Libby Loggers.
Libby finished under .500 last season at 9-11, but this spring’s surge hasn’t come completely unexpected, head coach Dean Thompson said.
“We’ve had this same group of girls since they were freshmen,” said Thompson, whose team comprises seven third-year players and another six sophomores, to just two seniors. “They’re juniors now and they’re ready.”
The Loggers have won their first seven games behind a healthy hitting corps. Devon Gallagher is batting .739, as tracked on www.ihigh.com/nwmta, which is the highest in Class A among players with more than six plate appearances. Gallagher also has 15 RBIs and a pair of homers.
Mahalah Wedel (.619) and Kelsey Klin (.500), one of the team’s rare seniors, are also hitting extremely well and Hannah England has pitched and won all seven games for Libby.
It’s been a good start, Thompson said, but he’ll learn a lot about his team this week. First up is Polson, the State A runner-up, on Thursday. The Loggers have to travel to the 6-1 Pirates’ home.
Then comes the Frenchtown Invitational on Friday and Saturday, a softball gathering that includes the State A champions and host Broncs (4-0) and the State B-C winner Florence (8-0).
“This weekend is going to be a good one,” Thompson said. “But even playing Columbia Falls last week (in a game that Libby won 10-6) was a big test. Our conference is so tough; it’s so hard to just get out of our conference and to state.”
The top three placers at the State A tourney last year came from Libby’s Northwestern A league, including the third-place Wildkats.
In Frenchtown, the Loggers will face Central A power Belgrade (3-1) and Southwestern A front-runner Hamilton (5-1).
Frenchtown holding softball invitational
Speaking of Frenchtown Invitational, the softball event will bring together 19 teams for as many as three games apiece on three fields on the lawn of Frenchtown High School on Friday and Saturday.
The Missoulian will be there to offer pitch-by-pitch live scoring and statistics online at MissoulaPreps.com/
live-scores for the invite’s marquee matchup Saturday evening.
Host Frenchtown will face fellow unbeaten Florence at 6 p.m. in the final matchup of the weekend.
Frenchtown Invitational schedule
10 a.m. – Stevensville vs. Mission (Field 1); Dillon vs. Florence (Field 2), Thompson Falls vs. Corvallis (Field 3)
noon – Frenchtown JV vs. Great Falls Central (F1); Hamilton vs. Columbia Falls (F2); Anaconda vs. Whitefish (F3)
2 p.m. – Frenchtown JV vs. Butte Central JV (F1); Stevensville vs. Thompson Falls (F2); Florence vs. Corvallis (F3)
4 p.m. – Loyola Sacred Heart vs. Butte Central (F1); Mission vs. Great Falls Central (F2); Whitefish vs. Dillon (F3)
6 p.m. – Frenchtown vs. Anaconda (F1); Hamilton vs. Libby (F2); Belgrade vs. Columbia Falls (F3)
10 a.m. – Columbia Falls vs. Anaconda (F1); Great Falls Central vs. Stevensville (F2); Dillon vs. Thompson Falls (F3)
noon – Frenchtown vs. Butte Central (F1); Belgrade vs. Hamilton (F2); Corvallis vs. Libby (F3)
2 p.m. – Polson vs. Loyola Sacred Heart (F1); Anaconda vs. Florence (F2); Whitefish vs. Stevensville (F3)
4 p.m. – Belgrade vs. Libby (F1); Butte Central vs. Columbia Falls (F2); Dillon vs. Great Falls Central (F3)
6 p.m. – Frenchtown vs. Florence (F1); Polson vs. Hamilton (F2); Corvallis vs. Whitefish (F3)