BILLINGS – Preston Sanders stepped into an impossible job last season – trying to fill Ed Kriskovich’s shoes after the legendary coach took Billings West to the State AA softball tournaments for three straight decades.
So when the Bears came up short, Sanders immediately had his eyes on this year.
“I don’t want to miss it two years in a row. We’re playing this season with every intention of going in there and winning state,” the second-year head man said.
“Last year was so heartbreaking to not make it and break the tradition,” said junior Kinzee Koch, “but since we have a new team, I feel like anything can happen.”
This season won’t be any easier. West is young – Madisen Dahlquist is the only senior, and she’s still adjusting to leadership.
“I’ve kind of always been the goofball on the team that kind of brings everybody together laughing,” said Dahlquist, “so I’m kind of trying to take over that role this year of being more in charge. But I think everyone’s really stepping up and making this team lead well.”
West is trying to turn its youth into a positive by surprising teams who might overlook the Golden Bears.
“Our team is looked at as the underdog team,” acknowledged Koch. “People don’t expect much of us because we lost a lot of seniors last year.”
“I hope they overlook us and take us for granted,” added Sanders. “I expect to win every game – that’s what we’re going out to do. We’re young, but they’re good ball players. I think as the year goes on we’ll get better and better and should be in it right there at the end.”
West hosts Billings Senior Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.