BELGRADE — As Belgrade celebrated its third consecutive state softball title with another firetruck ride, Erin Elgas was all smiles.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to end senior year: On top, we didn’t lose and it’s a great feeling. It’s a good way to end high school,” Elgas said.
The senior pitcher finished her high school career as a state champion for a third straight year, but this time around was different. Elgas was lights out through her final four games, tying the record for total strikeouts in a state tournament with 40, according to Belgrade.
She didn’t get caught up in the swings and misses, though; she just stuck to the fundamentals of her game.
“I didn’t feel unstoppable,” Elgas laughed. “We talked about it before the game, everyone doing their job and if everyone did their job the best that they could be, then we are always going to succeed. So, I was just trying to do my job the best I could.”
That included 19 strikeouts against Frenchtown in the quarterfinals, and she had a hand in the other two outs in the game.
“It gives the team a lot of confidence when she’s out there, and knowing that she can perform and she can get us strikeouts when we need to or she can produce a ground ball or a pop fly,” said Belgrade head coach Andrea Folkman.
Pitching four completes games in three days is a challenge on its own, but Elgas had good advice from her father.
“My dad told me before I left, he was like, ‘This is the last time you’re going to play in Montana,'” Elgas said. “We talked about as a team Saturday morning laying it all out of the field, leaving everything you’ve got there and that’s what I kept trying to do.”
The arm may be a bit sore, but a state title is worth it before she continues her softball career at Brown University. Elgas knows she couldn’t have done this without her teammates.
“These are my best friends, on the softball field and off the softball field. We’ve truly all been friends since we were 8 years old,” said Elgas. “One more game with them we just told each other that we were going to leave it all out there for each other, and we did. That was a great feeling.”
Elgas was a perfect 17-0 in the circle this year, her Panthers went 23-0, and she was named the state tournament MVP.
“I think I learned a lot more about working hard this season and being successful,” Elgas said. “So I’m really excited to carry that into the summer and over into the fall in my freshman year at Brown.”