BOZEMAN — Like most softball programs across the state, the Manhattan Tigers were looking forward to their 2020 season, hoping to build off their accomplishments from 2019. But instead of dwelling on their lost season, the Tigers are on a mission to pick up where they left off.
“My sophomore year, the last real season we played, we made it to state and we were a second-year program, so I’m super excited to see, even after our season, how far we’ll go and how good we’ll get as a program," Manhattan senior Shayla Shea said.
“It was really nice to finally get back on the field because not having a season last year really just threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, but being back on the field and finally getting to play with new girls, that’s really nice and we’re really looking forward to this season," Manhattan senior Malia Friese added.
Manhattan recorded its first winning season in program history in 2019, finishing 14-7.
"They’ve come a long way. This is the first year we didn’t have a group of girls come in starting from scratch because our first-year girls, probably three-fourths of the team, had even played organized softball in Manhattan," Manhattan head softball coach Randy Cygan explained.
But before the Tigers can set their eyes on another run at state, there are still a few hurdles they need to work through.
“The key for us is just getting girls used to their new positions after two years," Cygan added. "Everyone’s in a new position now. Where I had girls slated to play last year, we need them somewhere else this year. That’s going to be the key. That and getting them used to their positions. Hopefully by the time we come to divisionals and state tournament, we’ll be ready to go with everybody comfortable where they’re playing.”
Regardless of how 2021 shakes out for the Tigers, this is a special season for the seniors.
“The first year we started the program, they were the first ones in there," Cygan said. "Unfortunately they lost one of their four years, so hopefully they’ll make up for it this year. I have high expectations. We’ll see how we do, though. We play a tough schedule. We’re going to play a bunch of (Class) A teams, so we’ll see where we stand with them.”