FRENCHTOWN – Florence didn’t win the Western B divisional crown last week. But now they’re only one win away from a much bigger title.
The Falcons took down Western B champ and top seed Libby, 5-3 in a semifinal at the state B/C softball Tournament late Friday afternoon. The win moves Florence into the championship game for the first time since finishing their back-to-back-to-back title run in 2014. Libby can still get back to the championship game with a win over St. Ignatius/Arlee/Charlo Saturday morning.
After both teams scored one run in the 1st inning, Libby took the lead in the bottom of the 4th. Sammee Bradeen hit a triple to left and later scored on a Emily Carvey single. Carvey scored a couple batters later on a double to center by Linsey Walker, and the Loggers were up 3-1.
But Florence played small-ball to manufacture one run in the top of the 5th. Then Natalie Dulac and Chloe Arthur both reached base to lead of the 6th. The Falcons did not get another hit in the inning. But both runners came around to score to make it 4-3, thanks to a stolen base, a couple wild pitchers and a Libby error.
Florence added another insurance run in the top of the 7th. Shannon Byrne hit a ground-rule double through the fence in right-center with one out. And she scored when Dulac followed with a single.
Libby had scored 24 runs in their first two games of the tournament. But they could only put one runner on first base on their final at bat. Florence pitcher Brianna Hoffman finished off a complete game, giving up only 5 hits, and striking out 10 Loggers.
Florence can now wait until 12:00 on Saturday to play the championship game. Libby meets St. Ignatius/Arlee/Charlo at 10:00, with the winner advancing to face the Falcons. And the West’s 4-seed went the distance to stay alive.
At the same time Florence and Libby were battling, the Bulldogs upset the East’s top seed Glasgow 7-6 in 11 innings. They also beat the Scotties 7-6 in the first round on Thursday.
Glasgow struck first in what was a pitcher’s dual, plating two in the top of the 5th. The MAC co-op came back with 4 runs in the bottom of the inning to go up 4-2. After another Scotties run in the top of the 6th, the Bulldogs added two more to take a 6-3 lead into the 7th inning.
Glasgow loaded the bases with nobody out. Tyra Johnson hit a bases-clearing double to tie the game 6-6. But she was stranded on base, and the game went to extra innings.
The Scotties put two runners on in the 9th and 11th, but didn’t score. MAC left the bases loaded in the 8th, and a runner on second in the 10th.
Taylor Olson played hero in the 11th, grounding a base hit past the diving shortstop to score Vanessa Kent with the winning run. The Bulldogs kept their championship hopes alive, while Glasgow settled for a fourth place finish.
The day began with two second round contests in the winner’s bracket. Florence scored 3 runs in the 4th, and then held off a St. Ignatius/Arlee/Charlo comeback to win 4-2. Libby pounded out 8 runs in the 3rd inning on their way to a 13-3 win over Huntley Project. The game was called in the 6th inning due to the 10-run rule.
In loser out games at noon on Friday, Glasgow survived against Shepherd, 3-2. Missoula Loyola hammered Great Falls Central 19-4.
Then at 2:00, Glasgow won again, beating Huntley Project 13-3. And St. Ignatius/Arlee/Charlo took care of Loyola 10-1, setting up their extra-inning showdown.