MISSOULA – State softball tournaments throw out the first pitch in Montana this week. One team heads to Helena searching for its first-ever state title, and the ladies from Missoula Sentinel feel they have a good shot.
The Spartans finished second in the Western AA conference. They possess tons of talent in the lineup and on defense. Plus, these ladies might have more experience than any other team in the bracket.
Many of Sentinel’s starters have played big roles on varsity for three or even four years, so they’ve had plenty of time to dream about making history with a championship.
“I actually think our freshman-sophomore year we knew that we were all going to be varsity for the next three years,” said senior catcher and shortstop Taylor Holmes. “I think we started planning it and kind of subconsciously thinking about being the first team to do it.”
“I think we’ve had that goal for a while,” seconded senior center fielder Kayla Daily. “Even coming here our first season we knew we weren’t going to be the best. But this year that has definitely been on our minds a lot.”
Sentinel made a big step forward with a trip to state last year. The Spartans finished 1-2 in the bracket, but picked up valuable experience that should help this week.
“It’s super nerve-racking the first game,” remembered Daily. “So that’s kind of nice because we haven’t been to state for a while, so we didn’t know what to expect. Now we know what to expect, and it will be more comfortable for us.”
“We definitely took last year’s experience and I think we’re going to learn from that,” added Holmes. “I think we have high expectations this year, not just because our record, but because a lot of us, we’re all seniors.”
Sentinel will open the first round against Butte, the No. 3 seed from the Eastern AA, at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon in Helena. The two teams split a doubleheader early in the season in Missoula.