HELENA — Following a 7-5 finish to the regular season, Helena High head softball coach Ryan Schulte is well aware of the blemishes on the Bengals’ record.
Two of Helena High’s regular-season losses came by two or fewer runs and in extra innings, but Schulte is using those losses as mental training tools as they Bengals prepare for the Western AA divisional tournament.
“Those are all about those experiences, those positions that you’re in throughout the year,” Schulte said. “So you know how you want to respond when you get into them. ‘Hey, we didn’t respond in some of those close ones,’ or, ‘Didn’t make the play happen in some of those close ones,’ but now we get to say, ‘All right, let’s get into some close ones and win them right now.'”
The bright side for Helena High? The Bengals get to face the Missoula Hellgate Knights to open the divisional tournament, a team they beat twice during the regular season. The Bengals, though, know the Knights can get hot at the plate in a moments notice.
“They hit the ball. When they hit it, they hit it hard. They’ve got some really strong hitters that put the ball in play and make it tough on you,” Schulte said. “We expect them to do the same thing and come out with that same mentality that they did both games we played them.”
“They had a lot of good hitters. They hit the ball well against us and we didn’t play super clean defense, so we’ll clean that up and it should be a good game,” said junior Riley Thennis.
The Bengals and the Knights will open up the divisional tournament on May 17 at 11 a.m. For updated scores and pairings throughout the tournaments, please click here.