MISSOULA – It might not be a great weekend to head outside in Missoula, but if you do you can catch a great softball showdown. Montana collides with Weber State in a battle between the two teams picked to finish on top of the Big Sky Conference.
The Grizzlies and Wildcats have combined to win the past three Big Sky titles. Montana claimed their first last year by taking down Weber State on the Wildcats’ home field. Both teams stumbled last week and are now 3-3 in league play.
So this three-game series has it all; a little desperation, a team looking for revenge, and plenty of motivation.
“I think they’re like our conference rivals,” explained pitcher Colleen Driscoll. “The other sports have Montana State (MSU doesn’t have a softball team). And I think Weber State’s kind of like our rival, cause it’s always such a good game, and it’s so competitive, and it’s always neck-and-neck. So I think it’s a lot of fun. It brings an extra energy.”
“A lot of the times it has been if we win we’ll win the conference, if we lose we’re in fourth place,” said outfielder Katie Jo Waletzko about the past showdowns with the Wildcats. “So I think we’ve started a rivalry between the two of us. It’ll be fun this weekend.”
Montana softball has out-performed expectations each season. Now in year four, the program finds itself in a unique position.
The Grizzlies suffered a three-game sweep at first place North Dakota last week. So after starting the conference season 3-0 with their own sweep at Idaho State, UM is suddenly looking up at a couple teams. The Griz face some pressure for perhaps the first time, but no one is worried yet.
“We realize we have some work to do,” admitted Waletzko. “There’s not a problem with the team, what we have. We just realize we have to do some more work to be where we want to be.”
“It kind of humbled us,” added Driscoll about the trip to UND. “Because yeah we were picked one, and yeah we did so well last year. But we have to re-focus and know that we’re all on an equal playing field.”
Montana and Weber State’s collision begins with a doubleheader at 2:30 Friday afternoon. They’ll wrap up the important series with one more game at 1:00 Saturday.