BELGRADE — In 2019, the Belgrade softball team was on top of the world, winning their third straight Class A State title, but then 2020 was cancelled.
“We had two seniors that graduated that had a chance for a four-peat, and they never got that chance -- it was hard on everybody but especially hard on those two,” said Panthers head coach Joey Roberts.
Many of the upperclassmen are ready to fill the leadership role thanks to the seniors of years past who have instilled upon them the mentality it takes to be a state champion.
“We just kind of carry that mentality, just leave the program how you found it," said senior Maddisen Tomasetti, who plays first and third base. "I think it’s just a really good culture we have out here.”
Not only are they almost two years removed from their previous success. It’ll be the first time the team plays at the AA level.
“We’re a solid team, I’m pretty confident in every single girl, so I think we’re going to be perfectly fine,” Tomasetti said.
Despite not having a season last year, many of the girls came out and practiced last summer to make sure they didn’t fall behind.
“We had a great summer," Roberts said. "We had open fields out here, we had 15 to 18 girls out here almost everyday hitting a couple days a week. We managed to get a few scrimmages with our neighbors over the hill in Livingston and the girls were really committed to playing summer ball and the reps they got we're really valuable and I think it’s showing.”
Roberts and the team has hit the ground running in terms of practice, during spring break he had the team doing two-a-days -- hitting in the early morning, defense and base running in the afternoon
“Football does two-a-days, soccer does two-a-days in the fall," Roberts said. "I feel like why not? If we have that time might, as well utilize it.”
“It was just a lot of hard work and it really shows the dedication of all these girls, getting up at 7 a.m. almost probably 6 a.m for us and going home and taking break and coming right back like nothing ever happened,” said senior Elizabeth Ybarra, who plays first base and outfield.
The Panthers know, that all the hard work will be worth it in the end.
“We’re hungry for that state title, I mean honestly, working hard is what we need to do to achieve that goal,” Tomasetti said.
Panthers kick off their season April 6 at Lewistown.