BUTTE — Great Falls High took the long way around, but the Bison are back-to-back Class AA state softball champions.
The Bison won three games Saturday, defeating Billings Senior twice to claim the hard-fought title. After a come-from-behind 5-4 win in the first championship, Great Falls High rolled to a 7-0 win in the second.
“They wanted to win so bad. I think that loss (to Senior on Friday) made them want it even more,” said Bison coach Mike Coleman. “They were just fired up about it. We had them up early at 6 a.m. this morning, we were out hitting at 7 a.m. Those girls just wanted to play and they wanted to win.”
Rachel Porter broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the seventh inning of the first game with a two-run home run that ultimately gave the Bison the 5-4 win needed to force the second championship game. The Bison bats stayed hot, as they crushed three more home runs in the second game to secure the first-place trophy.
Sarah Conway got GFH started in the second game with a solo shot in the first inning, and Shea LaRocque added a three-run bomb in the third that made the score 5-0. Mady Ray gave the Bison further insurance in the fifth with a two-run shot.
Bison pitcher Anna Toon limited Senior, which entered Saturday with the tournament’s lone undefeated record after beating Great Falls High in Friday’s undefeated semifinal, all day. She pitched the shutout in Game 2 and held the Broncs to four runs in the first game despite a big showing from Lauren Gordon.
Gordon hit two home runs in the first game to give Senior life early, but the Broncs couldn’t consistently put runners on base. They did in the bottom of the seventh, plating one run to get back within 5-4. But Dacee Zent was thrown out at home, and another runner was left stranded at third as Great Falls High forced the second championship.
After losing to Senior in Friday’s undefeated semifinal, the Bison, the top seed from the Eastern AA, defeated Billings West 13-0 Saturday morning to advance to the championship.
“It feels great, it’s not an undefeated season but I think it feels a little bit better knowing that we didn’t have the same team, but we could still battle and just play great softball,” said Conway.
For full game results from the Class AA state tournament, please click here.