FLORENCE — For the first time in two years the state softball tournaments have made their way back to Montana.
Year in and year out, the Florence Falcons are one of the best programs across the entire state, and after winning a thrilling divisional tournament last weekend, the Falcons enter the Class B-C state tournament as one of the top seeds which will be played right at their home stadium.
Florence won in walk-off fashion against St. Ignatius-Arlee-Charlo to grab the Western B-C divisional title and head into the final week of the high school softball season as a top seed.
"(It) really helps that we’re all playing together as a team and all of us are meshing together very well during this time which is very important," junior shortstop Kolbi Wood said. "We’re peaking at the right time."
Florence has won five State B-C championships since 2012 and was the runner-up in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Falcons never got a chance to avenge that runner-up finish the year prior.
Now they do, and after a year off the Falcons needed some time to find their groove as a team again. Once they did, they were once again off and running.
"We definitely needed to mesh a little bit with having a new group of girls and losing a lot of key seniors our freshman year," junior center fielder Jaidyn Larson said. "So it definitely was challenging at the beginning of the year trying to be able to get that team and have that team bond. But other than that I think we’ve been doing great this year with it."
And in typical Florence tradition, regardless of how this week's tournament goes, the Falcons won't be going anywhere in the near future.
The team has just three seniors on the roster in Gabbie Reed, Mackenzie Little and Jayden Hendricksen, with a number of underclassmen and younger players contributing in a big way to the Falcons' success.
"And I still don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet," Florence coach Maurice Craun said. "So I’m looking forward to this weekend and seeing how we do."