GREAT FALLS — The State AA softball tournament has arrived. For the CMR Rustlers with a 20-1 record and the Great Falls High Bison with a 19-4 record, it’s time to settle down, focus in, and not think too far ahead.
“Just take it one game at a time and realizing that we need to stay in the game we’re in now and not think about the end game where we’re trying to be,” said GFH shortstop Tanaya Krenik. “Just take it one hit at a time, one strike at a time, one thing in front of the other as it comes.”
“We have to win every inning and if we can win every inning, then we’ll have a good outcome on Saturday,” said CMR head coach Lindsey Gustafson. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. So if we don’t play solid defense and get the little errors behind Tristin (Achenbach), things could go bad. As long as we’re hitting, I think everything goes well when you hit well.”
The Rustlers are aiming to get back-to-back state titles, while the Bison are riding on recent momentum after sweeping Bozeman in a play-in series. After finishing third in state last year, these ladies in blue are playing like they have something to prove.
“I think we’ve been playing really hard this year, we’re really a momentum team. We feel like that one person needs to get it going,” said GFH outfielder Mady Ray. “But for state, everyone’s going to have to pick it up and we’re all going to need to bring that momentum.”
“Our hitting is really coming along, we’re hitting the ball real well,” said GFH head coach Mike Coleman. “They’re real consistent. We’re around .375 for team average, which is real good. I told the girls, if you want to win the state championship, when we won in 2013 we had a .385 batting average for the team. You have to be at .385 or more to win.”
But as it should be, it’s all about confidence, each team believes that this is their year.
“I think anyone on this team can be a star and anyone can be the player of the game,” said Ray. “Everyone can show what they do. We all work our hardest every day. We’re a young team but I think we can really prove ourselves.”
“We’ve seen everyone this year. I think we’re ready,” said CMR catcher Katie Huisman. “We’re going to have to work hard, but I think we can do good against anyone.”
But for both teams, it’s like the old saying goes, “you dance with who brung ya.” Pitchers Tristin Achenbach and Erin Hocker have helped their schools get this far. Both teams will be depending on them heavily for state.
“Erin is going to pitch most of the games. We’ll she how she holds up, but I think she’ll do real well,” said Coleman. “She’s strong enough to do it, we’re going to ride her shoulders through the state tournament and hopefully give her enough support to where she won’t have to work too hard at it.”
“Obviously Tristin on the mound has been a huge strength of ours,” said Gustafson. “When you have Savannah (Voyles), Madi (Moore), Katie (Huisman), Tristin (Achenbach), Julia (Schearer), there’s a lot of hitters in there that have been getting the job done.”
Time to see who the best is, this weekend a champion will be crowned.