HELENA — After besting Missoula Sentinel Saturday morning, Helena High met Kalispell Glacier for the Class AA state softball championship at Batch Fields.
Helena 2, Glacier 0, first championship
Brooke Richardson would go deep for the first time of this game, second HR on the day for Richardson saw her Bengals on top of the Wolfpack, 1-0 early in the fourth inning. Senior, Kalley May would then RBI single off Glacier’s Ella Farrell to make it 2-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Sophomore, Starting Pitcher, Faith Howard for the Bengals would add about another 100 pitches to her total pitch count during this year’s State tourney, as she pitched the entire game, again. Howard would end game one with 0 earned runs, 6 K’s, and no walks as the second game was delayed for a few minutes due to further heavy rain.
Glacier 19, Helena 7, second championship
These rival teams would end up playing each other a total of five times and going into Game 5, both teams had a record of 2-2. In the fifth and final match-up for these two squads, Kalispell Glacier would have the last laugh as Faith Howard seemed fatigued midway through the fourth inning for Helena High, when Riley Schlepp would come in to finish the game for the Bengals.
Kalispell’s Ella Farrell started the scoring for game two with an RBI single, scoring Kenadie Goudette from third. Glacier would score two more that inning after an outfield error by the Bengals. In the bottom half of the inning, hometown hero, Kalley May, smoked a 3-run shot over the center field fence for her first at-bat of the game.
Helena would keep Kalispell at bay in the second, but Kylee Gardipee wanted in on the action belting a solo HR in the bottom half of the second inning to put her team up, 4-3. In the third, standout Junior for Kalispell Glacier, Emma Cooke answered with one of her own, as the Wolfpack lead by one run after three, 6-5.
This final game of the 2023 season was a masterpiece for both teams through five innings, after another RBI from Helena Bengal’s Ashley Koenig, which made it, 8-7. Glacier would ultimately score three more runs in the top of the fifth inning, holding Helena High scoreless for the remainder of the championship doubleheader.
Top sixth, Emma Cooke would hit her second Home Run of the entire tournament, going 4-for-5 with 5 RBI’s. Senior, Brooklyn Imperato would hit her second dinger of the game as well, after her three-run HR puts the Wolfpack up by double digits in the top of the seventh. This would be their second State title in the past decade, winning in 2015.
The runner up, Ryan Schulte-coached Helena High Bengals would end up losing their first-ever appearance in the state championship game, 19-7.