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Montana Grizzlies softball blows early lead; drops two games at Stanford Invitational

Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 02, 2019

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Montana softball team dropped two games on Friday as the Stanford Invitational got underway in Palo Alto, Calif.

The Grizzlies gave up an early lead in a 5-2 loss to North Dakota State, then lost 7-3 to the host Cardinal in the day’s final game.

Montana will face Cal Poly at 1:15 p.m. (MT) and Stanford again at 5:45 p.m. (MT) on Saturday as the tournament continues.

The Grizzlies (3-14) got off to a good start on Friday when Cami Sellers came through with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the third to give them a 2-0 lead on the Bison (9-6).

The hit scored Brooklyn Weisgram and Katie Pippel, who opened the inning with back-to-back singles.

North Dakota State answered in the bottom half of the inning, pulling within 2-1 on an RBI double, then scoring twice more to go up 3-2 after a two-out Montana infield error extended the inning.

The Grizzlies had a chance to tie it or retake the lead in the sixth, when Sellers led off with a single and Maygen McGrath followed with a walk.

A fly out, a line out and a strikeout ended the threat, and the Bison would add two more in the bottom of the sixth for the game’s final margin.

Colleen Driscoll started and faced all but the last NDSU batter to drop to 2-3 on the season.

North Dakota State’s two pitchers struck out eight and limited the Grizzlies to four hits, matching a season low. Sellers had half of Montana’s hits, going 2 for 3.

Facing Stanford, which sits just outside the top 25 in this week’s national poll, starter Tristin Achenbach gave up a first-inning run but struck out six in her four innings of work.

Montana tied it in the third when McKenna Tjaden led off with a walk. With one out, Lexi Knauss hit an infield single to short. The resulting throwing error sent Tjaden to third.

Knauss was later thrown out at second attempting to steal. That allowed Tjaden to race home from third to make it 1-1.

Achenbach made it through the fourth on just eight pitches but ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up a lead-off home run, then walking the next batter on five pitches.

Michaela Hood would come on in relief. Stanford scored two in the fifth, three more in the sixth, when Hood was replaced by Maddy Stensby.

With a runner on and two outs in the seventh and Stanford leading 7-1, McKenna Tjaden connected on her first home run as a Grizzly, down the left-field line, to make the final score 7-3.

Montana was once again limited to four hits, all coming in separate innings. Stanford improved to 13-2 with the win as Achenbach took the loss to fall to 1-3.