MISSOULA – The Zootown girls continued their domination of the West Region on Tuesday morning. The hosts blew out Southern California 12-2 in the semifinals. Now they’ll meet the number two seed from Hawaii in the championship.
Zootown pounded out seven runs in the first two innings to take a 7-0 lead. Jalen Cooper drilled a two-run bomb in the second, on her way to a 4/4 performance with four RBIs. Shelby Dunwell added two hits and three RBIs for the hosts. The Los Angeles all-stars cut the lead back to 7-2 in the bottom of the second. But Zootown pulled away to a 12-2 win in six innings, with the game ending due to the ten-run rule.
Zootown improves to a perfect 7-0 in the tournament, and have now outscored their opponents 97-12. The U-16 stars are now one win away from winning the West Region again and taking Missoula back to the Senior Softball World Series for a fifth straight year.
Hawaii trailed all game against the other Montana team in the tournament. Billings scored four in the first inning, thanks in part to a two-run home run from Sydney Nelson. Hawaii immediately responded with three runs in the top of the second, including a two-run homer from Nanea Kalua’u. But they never took the lead until the seventh inning.
Billings held a 5-4 lead only one out away from earning a spot in the championship. But with runners on first and third, Tehani Epenesa laid down a great bunt that rolled up the first baseline. Billings pitcher Alison Eldridge tried to make a hurried throw to first, but it sailed high. Two runners scored on the play giving Hawaii the lead. Then Epenesa shut down the Montana bats one-two-three in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
Zootown and Hawaii will swing for a spot in the Senior Softball World Series at 6:00 Tuesday night in Missoula. Hawaii gave Zootown their closest game of the tournament back on Friday, a 5-2 Missoula win.