GREAT FALLS – Redemption is a powerful motivator. Last year the Great Falls High softball team fell at the doorstep of the championship game to CMR. Fast forward to this year. With most of the team still in tact, the Bison rode that redemption factor all the way to a perfect season at 22-0 and a AA state championship, a 14-4 victory over Missoula Sentinel, the school’s first title since 2013. A AA softball team has never gone undefeated and won it all, until now.
“It’s a great feeling, the girls deserve it so much. They’ve worked so hard this year,” said head coach Mike Coleman. “They told me before the season that they wanted to win a state championship and they worked hard enough to do it. To be undefeated also that’s just an extra added benefit. They’ve deserved it.”
“We’re so happy that this finally happened for our team. We’ve been wanting it since we were freshman, us seniors. It’s just…no words,”said GFH senior Cayley Bushong.
All season the team rode the arm and will of number 6 on the mound. Erin Hocker was nearly unhittable all year and she became the best pitcher in the AA during her final season. She’s entered her name on the list of one of the greatest pitchers the Electric City has ever seen.
“Erin Hocker is just a phenomenal pitcher. Without her, I don’t know where we would be because she makes those balls playable for us and she gets those strikeouts. I can’t ask for a better team,” said GFH senior Molly Schmitz.
“Last years loss was a little rough on us, we really wanted it after that,” said Hocker, a senior. “We knew we were close enough, we had the same girls pretty much. We only lost two really great seniors. So we knew that with a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work we could do it.”
It wasn’t just all upperclassmen doing the heavy lifting either. Freshman and sophomores like Morgan Sunchild, Rachel Porter and Annie Toon helped pave way to a championship and prove the future will remain bright for this team. Other great stories included Bushong going 5-for-5 in her final game in a Bison uniform, including the game deciding hit. But this 2018 squad will go down in infamy as one of the greatest in any class in state history. A zero in that loss column.
“No bickering on this team, these girls knew how to play together, a couple times we didn’t play so well but we still struggled through and won ball games,” said Coleman. “That’s what makes a great team great, when you can battle through some bad times and still win.”
“Just no words for it, so so amazing. Just to do it with this group of girls who I’ve grown up with and just to end a career that way, you can’t ask for anything better,” said Schmitz. “That was a perfect season, that was a perfect team, and it’s a perfect feeling.”