BUTTE — The first round of the Class AA state softball tournament kicked off at Stodden Park in Butte Thursday with four games.
Billings Senior, Helena Capital, Great Falls High and Billings West earned first-round wins, sending Kalispell Glacier, Billings Skyview, Helena High and Missoula Sentinel to loser-out action.
Note: Click each game’s score line for video highlights.
A young-but-talented Billings Senior squad came into the Class AA softball tournament as the No. 4 seed out of the East, which meant they’d square off against the No. 1 team from the West, the Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack. The Broncs, however, didn’t seem to get that underdog memo. The game went scoreless for the first two innings, but Senior opened it up with back-to-back RBI doubles that gave the Broncs an early 2-0 lead in the top half of the third. The Wolfpack couldn’t get anything going on offense, all due to the fact that freshman Kennedy Venner threw a complete game, one-hit shutout in a dominating pitching performances. A home run from Cassidy Venner and some added insurance in the seventh gave the Broncs a 6-0 win.
Billings Skyview opened against Helena Capital in a feature of dominant pitching. Falcons pitcher Shea Earley kept Capital off the bases until the fourth inning, while Capital’s Nicole Ames held Skyview to two runs through five innings. Skyview entered the seventh with a 3-0 lead, but Capital tied it and ended up winning 5-3 in extra innings.
Last year’s state champion, Great Falls High, began its title defense against Helena High. The Bison cruised to an 11-1 victory in five innings. Great Falls High hit three home runs in the first inning, including a three-run shot from Rachel Porter. Mariah English drove in the lone run for the Bengals with a solo home run in the second.
The No. 3 seed out of the East, Billings West, and No. 2 seed out of the West, Missoula Sentinel, were the fourth and final game of the day. The Golden Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings thanks to a three-run home run from Sydney Nelson. The Spartans fought back to get it to a one-run ballgame heading into the sixth, but that would be as close as they would get. The Bears added another run to take the opening-round win 12-10.
The tournament resumes Friday at 10 a.m. Please click here for updated scores and pairings throughout the tournament.
MTN Sports’ Dom Tibbetts contributed to this report.