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Defending Big Sky champion Montana Grizzlies expect to be even better

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 16:00:16-04

MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies won their first Big Sky Conference softball title last year, and it might have come a season early. Montana earned a championship in the third year of the program, when UM was loaded with juniors.

Now with many of the original members of the team entering their fourth year, the Griz suit up 11 seniors. With five strong arms in the circle, the Griz have their deepest pitching staff ever, giving former assistant and first year head coach Melanie Meuchel plenty of options.

Montana finished non-conference play 12-17, not quite as good as last year (17-16). With Big Sky play starting this weekend, the expectations are very high.

“We still have all of our seniors right now. We gained some pretty good freshmen. I think we’re pretty great,” stated sophomore pitcher Michaela Hood, last year’s Big Sky Conference Tournament MVP.

“Especially our communication, your friendships between each other are a lot stronger. And I think they’ve grown each year,” explained senior center fielder and leadoff hitter MaKenna McGill, who comes returns from a torn ACL. “So having that and being able to accept our underclassmen a little bit better, just our strength as a team has grown over the years.”

“Yeah there is probably a little bit bigger of a target,” admitted Meuchel. “But if we can stay true to the gritty, the competition, the team that still desires more each time, then I think we have a good chance at anybody that we’re facing.”

The Griz throw out the first pitch of conference play Saturday afternoon in Pocatello, Idaho. They’ll play a three-game series versus the struggling Idaho State Bengals (4-18).