FLORENCE — The Class B-C state softball tournament got under way Thursday in Florence, with Columbus-Park City-Absarokee, Mission-Arlee-Charlo, Florence and Cut Bank earning first-round wins.
Cut Bank 13, Manhattan 3
The Cut Bank-Valier Wolves used an eight-run fourth inning en route to a 13-3 victory over Manhattan to wrap up first-day action of the State B-C softball tournament in Florence on Thursday.
The Wolves' big inning was highlighted by a three-run home run from Sienna Spotted Bear, who sent the ball over the wall on a 3-0 count to blow the doors open for Cut Bank's offense. The Wolves added three more runs after Spotted Bear to head into the fifth inning up 12-3.
"I know when we first came here we were very nervous and we weren't playing our game," Spotted Bear said. "Finally we all met together, we took a breath and we just played our game.
"(On the home run) coach looked at me and said, 'If it's right down the middle, take it.' It was close and I just stepped through it and drove it. It felt very nice."
Spotted Bear then put the game away with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth that sealed the win for Cut Bank due to the 10-run rule. The win punched Cut Bank's ticket to a semifinal game with Florence on Friday at 10 a.m.
"I think it's a big confidence booster for us," Spotted Bear said. "We're a very young team and it was a very big confidence booster and we're ready for (Friday)."
Hannah Monroe and Makenna Burke each tallied RBI triples for the Wolves while Monroe also added a home run.
Manhattan will take on Shepherd in a loser-out game at noon on Friday.
Florence 12, Shepherd 5
The Florence-Carlton softball team opened the first round of the State B-C softball tournament with a big victory, as the Falcons beat Shepherd 12-5 on Thursday.
MacKenzie Little drove in four runs for Florence while Kylie Kovatch added a three-run home run as Florence advanced to the next round.
"It definitely feels great coming out into state and taking a good win our first game of it," Little said. "And it feels awesome being on our home field."
Little's two-run single in the bottom of the first inning gave Florence a 2-1 lead. Olivia Murray gave Shepherd the lead again in the top of the third with a two-RBI double. Kovatch's home run gave Florence a 6-3 advantage in the bottom half of the inning.
Haileigh Davis and Aubrey Allison drove in runs for Shepherd in the top of the fourth to close the gap to 6-5, but from there Florence took over. Kasidy Yeoman, who finished with a three-hit day, added a solo shot for the Falcons in the bottom of the fourth. Little added a two-RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth as the Falcons used a five-run inning to put the game away.
"That felt great to bring in all of those people and I was on third," Little said. "In that situation I just knew that I had to bring in some runners so we weren't so nervous to be close to them in the game."
Mission-Arlee-Charlo 7, Huntley Project 6
Izzy Evans needed just one pitch.
With the bases loaded and trailing by three, Evans completed every kid's dream with a walk-off grand slam to give Mission-Arlee-Charlo the 7-6 victory over Huntley Project in the opening round of the State B-C softball tournament on Thursday.
"I'm just so excited," a beaming Evans said after. "My coach just said have your head in the game and just one hit. I was just thinking, 'Alright, I'm going to score these runs.'"
Evans, a freshman, swung at the first pitch of the at-bat, a changeup, which was exactly what she wanted.
"I didn't think it was going to be the first pitch," Evans said. "I thought I was going to get a couple of strikes and then get it."
Huntley Project began the game with a 3-0 advantage after Rylie Wadman connected on an infield hit that scored a run, followed by a two-RBI double from Lily Zimmer, all of which came in the third inning.
MAC got a run back in the bottom of the fourth off of an RBI-single from Gabby Smith. Then in the bottom of the sixth, Smith laid down a sacrifice bunt but a pair of errors got her to third while also scoring a runner. Then, Bennan Anderson drove in Smith to tie the game.
Huntley Project's bats came alive in the top of the seventh inning. With the bases loaded, Macy Rose walked which scored Ashley Wengler. Brighton Lane then scored on a wild pitch and Wadman added one more on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3 Huntley Project.
But MAC loaded the bases with no outs as Jerny Crawford and Liev Smith each hit singles while Hayleigh Smith walked, setting up Evans' game-winner.
MAC will take on Stillwater in a 10 a.m. game on Friday. Huntley Project will play at noon Friday when it takes on Ennis in a loser-out game.
Columbus-Park City-Absarokee 2, Ennis 1
Izzy Adams hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Stillwater co-op of Columbus-Park City-Absarokee the first win of the day at the State B-C softball tournament on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Ennis.
The tournament is being held at the Florence Softball Complex.
Megan Knack got the scoring started for Ennis with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. Stillwater tied the game on a solo shot of its own courtesy of Makayla Harper in the bottom of the third.
"I was looking for a pitch that was in my strike zone," Harper said. "I knew that going up there that I needed to pull something out for my team. In that sense, I found the pitch that I liked and I hit one right where I wanted it."
From there, it was a defensive battle and pitching duel between Ennis' Addison Retherford and Stillwater's Hannah Kimble. After Stillwater took the lead on Adams' single, Ennis got two key outs to prevent any further damage.
However, Stillwater ended the game on a game-winning double play to advance to the next round.
"It feels good (to get the win) because I know my team has a lot more potential than what we showed today," Harper said. "People are going to underestimate us by seeing what we did tonight and it's just going to show that we have a lot of potential and can prove ourselves throughout the tournament.
"We got that first step done and now we have several more steps to accomplish."