GREAT FALLS — In 2021, Bison softball reached the state tournament and upset top seed Missoula Sentinel only to be eliminated in the next two games.
In 2020, they didn’t have a season due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before all that though, Great Falls High won back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019. The Bison and the upperclassmen who experienced that success as freshmen want badly for the rest of the team to know that feeling.
“Coming to softball, the juniors and seniors kind of took in the underclassmen under their wing to show them what the team and family was like and I just want to do that for the younger girls this year,” senior infielder Emma Newmack said.
The good news for this year’s team is that they’re healthy, unlike their roster at the end last season, and many of the wide-eyed contributing all-conference sophomores from last year such as Ashlyn Jones and Alex Bloomgren are back as juniors with that much more experience under their belt.
“It’s nice having a lot of the sophomores who were on varsity last year and are juniors now and I think we all have our individual leadership that will get us through the games,” Bloomgren said.
“We’ve been shorthanded the last two years so injuries played into it,” 11-year head coach Don Meierhoff said. “Put us all together and we’re pretty darn good.”
The Bison head into this season without three of their star all-conference seniors from last year’s team in Morgan Sunchild, Ryen Palmer and Stephanie Jablonski but Meierhoff is just happy with the roster he has this season to get the job done in their absence.
“So we got girls that are busting it to try and fill in for that," Meierhoff said. "Obviously we know that you can’t fill in everything for those three girls but there’s certain aspects that the seniors this year are better at and the juniors just working hard.”
The regular season kicks off March 31 in a doubleheader against Flathead and Glacier in Great Falls.