EAST HELENA — Here in East Helena, softball is becoming a staple of this close–knit community and it starts at the top. MTN Sports caught up with the team at their 1st Blue and Gray scrimmage as they prepare for their second-ever varsity softball season.
“East Helena is a very unique opportunity because we have had to grow the program from the ground up, this is our first year where we have all four classes in the High School. So that has helped out a lot but yeah, it has had challenges but it’s also kind of fun, it’s really fun to be a part of history," remarked Head Softball Coach Megan Surginer. "It's only made our program stronger, the older girls are working harder and those young kids are hungry," continued Coach Surginer.
First-year JV Head Coach Jayden Tripp, who also played softball for Capital High, shares how she prepares her team for an impactful season.
"I just remember being a part of a team myself, and I don't remember all the games we won and we lost but, I remember being a part of that team. I remember what it felt like to be a part of something successful," stated Coach Tripp. “You know, I feel like we just really focus on like picking each other up… So I feel like I’m trying to bring that energy and that excitement that I have to be here, to the girls so that they can pick up on that and take it with them into the games."
Both coaches emphasized how they are creating a culture at EHHS.
"I know, these girls are just making history every year, last year we made history, this year we're making history. It's fun," expressed Coach Tripp.
East Helena’s All-Conference duo of Belle Surginer and Ella Pickett have high hopes for their final high school season.
“We have been working really hard in the off-season in the gyms, hitting, catching, pitching and we’re super ready to come out and compete," said Pickett, starting catcher.
Fellow Senior Surginer expressed to us how important that team bond truly is.
“So me and Ella actually were classmates in kindergarten….and I’m really excited for our future because we have that energy together that really makes a team great," stated the starting pitcher. "It is just awesome being able to play with Ella, she's one of my greatest friends and I know it's going to be like that for the rest of my life. So it's just awesome that I get to play with her."
Surginer reminded MTN of how far the Vigilantes have come in such a short period of time, having only existed as a program for the past three years.
“But, that’s the best that the school’s done in varsity. Softball is the most winningest sport in varsity and we want to keep doing that and be the team that wins the most again here and so, I’m just really looking to win, compete and have fun," added Surginer.
Sophomore Madison Hogue, starting third base, has been playing softball for six years before entering high school. She's also excited for this season and gave some tips on how she handles the diamond.
“I try to relax in the position. And I have really fast reflexes so having balls hit to me are really fun, I find it exciting. It gets your adrenaline pumping,” explained Hogue. "..to just relax and trust yourself. It goes a long way if you trust yourself, and if you can't do it, just try again."
The Vigilantes recognize there are more established programs and strong teams in their division, but Coach Tripp wants to send her seniors out on top.
“The girls want to go to state, so we’re gonna go to state. That’s our goal right," beamed Tripp.
The high school softball season has finally arrived in Montana, although some teams around the state are dealing with unplayable fields. The East Helena Vigilantes are scheduled to open play on the road against Dillon on April 6.