Mike Coleman walks to the dugout after an inning. (TOM WYLIE/MTN Sports)

HELENA — The final three Class AA softball programs punched their tickets to next weekend’s State AA tournament at Batch Fields in Helena, finalizing the eight-team bracket. Four teams from each league, the Eastern AA and Western AA, will participate in the tournament.

Billings Senior, Helena High and Kalispell Glacier each earned playoff series wins on Thursday, securing the final three berths in the tournament. Senior, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern AA, swept Bozeman 8-5 and 10-3 in the best two-of-three series.

Helena High, ranked fourth in the Western AA, scored 31 combined runs in wins over Missoula Big Sky. The Bengals defeated the Eagles 13-3 in Game 1, before an 18-1 throttling in the second contest.

Kalispell Glacier took down rival Kalispell Flathead in the final series of the afternoon, with the Wolfpack earning 16-1 and 23-3 victories.

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On Tuesday, Missoula Sentinel routed Missoula Hellgate 20-1, 11-0, while Butte swept Billings Skyview 10-0, 16-10. Great Falls CMR, the two-time defending state champion, defeated Billings West in two games on Wednesday.

No playoff series went to a deciding third game.

Thursday’s winners unofficially complete the brackets for the upcoming state tournament, which begins on Thursday. Great Falls High enters as the heavy favorite after an undefeated regular season, but Helena Capital could make a push for the title. The Bison face Helena High at 2 p.m. on Thursday while the Bruins meet CMR at 4 p.m.

The other first round games will include Missoula Sentinel against Butte, while Kalispell Glacier opens with Billings Senior at 4 p.m.

The State AA tournament is a two-loss elimination bracket, with the state championship scheduled for Saturday at noon, with an if-necessary Game 2 slated to begin shortly after around 2 p.m.

The unofficial first round schedule is below.

2018 State AA softball tournament

Thursday, May 24
Great Falls High vs. Helena High, first round, 2 p.m.
Missoula Sentinel vs. Butte, first round, 2 p.m.
Helena Capital vs. Great Falls CMR, first round, 4 p.m.
Billings Senior vs. Kalispell Glacier, first round, 4 p.m.

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