BILLINGS – Every great dynasty has a starting point. The 2018 Shepherd Fillies hope to be that building block for the future.
“We want Shepherd to be a legacy, a softball legacy,” said head coach Lori Goodell. “Kind of building that expectation that we go to state every year. We started that last year and we’re back this year, just hoping we make it a tradition.”
“It’s something that’s really cool for our school because we always want to leave a legacy,” said Fillies third baseman Lexi Dietz. “It’s always something our school is really, really proud of and it’s something that softball girls haven’t done in a long time, so it’s kind of cool for us to kind of start leading off.”
And like all great softball programs, it starts in the circle. The Fillies have their ace in Jacey Pointer. The senior has been incredible this season: Ninety-four innings pitched, 120 strikeouts and a 13-2 record.
“I feel pretty comfortable because I’ve been doing it for a while, so it’s just pretty normal to me,” Pointer said.
“We really have to give a lot of credit to our pitchers,” said Dietz. “We have one of the best pitchers in the state, and it’s really nice to have her on our back and know that we don’t have to worry about walking people all the time. It’s something that we as a team kind of just rely on her a lot.”
If Pointer should struggle, Shepherd’s bats, including her own, will likely back her up. Pointer leads the way with a .447 batting average, but the entire lineup is dangerous. The Fillies are batting .326 on the season with a .450 on-base percentage.
“Our lineup goes a freshman, a senior, a sophomore and then a senior, so our lineup is really, really stacked all the way through,” Dietz said. “We don’t really have a hole that needs to be filled.”
With numbers like that, wins have followed. The Fillies are 14-4 overall and Saturday just won their first Eastern B-C divisional title since 2009.
But this team really wants to make school history.
“Any time you bring home hardware it’s awesome,” Goodell said. “You know, having your name forever in the school, in the trophy case and being able to be part of that legacy is amazing.”
“It would be the best thing that ever happened to Shepherd (softball),” Dietz imagined. “Everybody kind of puts down Shepherd for softball. They don’t always say, ‘Hey, Shepherd’s got the softball team,’ and I think winning the state title would be something that our school could be really, really proud of.”
Shepherd’s girls will be chasing history when they open the State B-C Tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. against Missoula Loyola. The Fillies have never won it all on the diamond.