(Editor's note: this article will be updated with highlights)
KALISPELL -- On Day 1, the Eastern AA came to play. All four teams from the East captured wins in the opening round of the 2021 State AA softball tournament on Thursday at the Kidsports Complex in Kalispell.
No. 4-seed Great Falls High had the biggest upset of the day, mashing nine home runs as a team to beat Western AA No. 1-seed Missoula Sentinel 14-8. Great Falls, which won the previous two State AA championships prior to the canceled 2020 season, moves on to Friday's 10 a.m. semifinal against Belgrade.
Belgrade shook off a slow offensive start to overtake Helena Capital in a 3-2 decision. The game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Arin Eaton led off with a triple. She later scored off a Shaylis Osler single, and then the Panthers shut things down in the seventh. Belgrade will play Great Falls High in the 10 a.m. Friday semifinal.
Billings Senior used a monster second inning to catch Kalispell Glacier off guard. The Broncs batted around in the inning and built a 7-0 lead, tacked on an extra run later and pitcher Kennedy Venner threw a gem to hold off a tough Wolfpack offense and win 8-4. Senior moves on to face crosstown rival Billings West at 10 a.m. Friday.
Eastern AA No. 1-seed Billings West beat Helena High 9-4. The game was tight early, but the Golden Bears broke things open in the fourth on the strength of back-to-back home runs from Halle Spring and Marleigh Nieto. The Bears will play Senior at 10 a.m. Friday.
Updated scores and pairings can be found here.