High School SportsHigh School Softball


State B/C softball: Shepherd, Florence win twice to set up hard-hitting showdown

Karli Goodell
Posted at 5:43 PM, May 24, 2024

BILLINGS — Neither team lived up to expectations last year. Neither team is going quietly this time around.

Shepherd and Florence-Carlton, top seeds from their respective divisions, each won twice Friday at the Class B/C state softball tournament at Stewart Park to set up a showdown in Saturday's undefeated semifinal that carries championship implications.

The tournament was originally scheduled to begin Thursday, but wet weather forced a one-day postponement.

Shepherd, No. 1 from the East, beat Thompson Falls 10-0 in the first round Friday, then followed with a 12-0 romp over Manhattan. The Fillies combined to hit nine homers. Florence also cruised on Day 1, beating Huntley Project 14-4 and defending champ Conrad-Choteau 10-0.

Florence softball
The Florence softball team huddles between innings during a game against Conrad-Choteau at the Class B/C state tournament at Stewart Park in Billings on Friday, May 25, 2024.

Both teams had title-winning aspirations a year ago but both went two and out. The winner of Saturday's matchup between Shepherd and Florence will earn a berth in the championship round. The undefeated semifinal begins at 9 a.m.

Florence 10, Conrad-Choteau 0 (5 innings)

Florence was going for a three-peat last season, but exited quickly as the No. 1 seed from the West with two consecutive losses. The Falcons made sure that wasn't the case this time, especially against the defending champs.

Hailey Sutton went 3 for 3 with a homer and three RBIs, and Taylor Pyette doubled twice and drove in three runs as the Falcons, again No. 1 from the West, offense kept slugging after a 10-run win over Thompson Falls in Round 1.

In the circle, Kenzy Pickering spun five shutout innings, allowing four this while striking out four and walking none.

"This is a big win for us," Pyette said. "We came into state last year with some high expectations and we lost out in two. Having a win like that was big for us. Last year we didn't perform well. This year, it's looking good."

Conrad-Choteau had advanced earlier Friday with a 12-7 victory over Three Forks in the first round.

For a program that has won 12 state titles since 2000, the Falcons are back in familiar territory. Their plan for Saturday won't change.

"We just have to have the same mentality as this morning," Pyette said. "I think we'll be able to keep it up. So that's our goal."

Shepherd 12, Manhattan 0 (5 innings)

Riding the wave of a three-home-run performance in its tourney-opening win over Thompson Falls, Shepherd clubbed six more homers while dispatching Manhattan.

Bree Fulton hit two against the Tigers, while Karli Goodell, Grace Mosher, Lauren Anderson and Wilhelmina Wenz also went deep. The Fillies scored five runs in the second inning and finished the game with 16 hits.

Fulton hit three home runs total on Friday and Goodell hit two. Charlotte White added a long ball in the opener against Thompson Falls.

"This year we came in with a lot more fight. This year, I think we actually want it," Fulton said. "We've been pretty good all season; we've only lost one game. But I think going into it this year, winning just really sets us up well."

Against Manhattan, which won its tournament opener earlier Friday by a 6-4 score over Glasgow, Paige Goodell had five strikeouts (after racking up 14 Ks in the opener) and didn't allow a hit in three innings. Krista Dunn threw two innings of scoreless relief.

The Fillies, who have never won a state softball title in program history, know they have a battle looming Saturday against Florence.

"I think it'll be really good," Fulton said. "Last year, we were both 1 seeds and then we both ended up getting last, basically, because we both lost out the first two games. But I think it's a good matchup and I think playing someone with the same competition will be good."

Friday's other scores

Three Forks 6, Huntley Project 5, loser out

Thompson Falls 8, Glasgow 5, loser out

Manhattan 23, Three Forks 6, loser out

Conrad-Choteau 17, Thompson Falls 6, loser out