(Editor’s note: University of Montana media release)
EUGENE, Ore. — The Montana softball team couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead in its opener against Toledo on Saturday at the Oregon Duck Invitational in Eugene and was no-hit by the host Ducks under the lights on Saturday night.
The Grizzlies entered the day riding a three-game winning streak and looked sharp early against the Rockets, jumping out to a 5-1 lead and taking it into the sixth.
Delene Colburn and Tori Lettus both had RBI singles in the first as Montana built a 3-0 lead, and MaKenna McGill and Colburn added RBI singles in the fourth, making it 5-1.
Montana starter Maddy Stensby allowed just one run and three hits through five, but ran into trouble in the sixth, loading the bases with one out on two singles and a hit batter.
Haley Young replaced Stensby and got the first batter she faced to pop up to shortstop, Toledo’s second out of the inning, but a bases-clearing double followed, tying the score at 5-5.
Ashlyn Lyons led off the seventh with a double and Stensby drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with nobody out, and the Grizzlies loaded the bases with two outs, but nothing came of it.
Predictably, given the big turn in momentum, Toledo used a walk, an infield error by Montana, a hit batter and a walk-off single to end it.
“We gave them opportunities late, and they jumped on them and put us on our heels,” said coach Melanie Meuchel.
“We didn’t execute late in the game to push our runs through, and they stepped up and took care of it and got on a little bit of a roll.”
Lyons and McGill both had two hits for Montana, which left nine runners on base.
In the day’s final game, Megan Kleist no-hit Montana while striking out a dozen. It was the third time in program history the Grizzlies have been no-hit but the first time over a seven-inning game.
Nebraska did it over six innings in 2015, Washington did it last season over five innings at the NCAA tournament.
Kleist faced the minimum 21 batters. Kylie Hayton, who has started the first four games at the Duck Invitational in right field for Alex Wardlow, led off the sixth with a grounder to third that was misplayed for an error. She was later thrown out at second trying to steal.
“She did a good job pounding the zone, then expanding the zone, and we chased some pitches,” said Meuchel. “We helped her, but she’s a good pitcher, and she had a good game.”
Colleen Driscoll and Maddy Stensby combined to pitch a 1-0 loss to the Ducks last season in Hawaii, and Driscoll got the start again on Saturday, one day after throwing a one-hit shutout of Toldeo.
She held the Ducks scoreless through three with only one hit allowed, but gave up three in the fourth. Michaela Hood came on in relief and threw the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs.
Montana will close out the tournament on Sunday with a second chance at Oregon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. (MT).
“Today happened and it was what it was,” said Meuchel. “We’ll learn from it. Tomorrow will be a chance for us to compete with Oregon again, another chance to show up and compete pitch-for-pitch with them.”