Polson came out of the stretch nearly unscathed winning four of the five contests. They started with a 7-4 home victory against Columbia Falls Thursday night at Polson High School’s softball stadium.
“Those were tough, competitive games and when we play Columbia Falls, they are usually competitive conference games,” Pirates’ manager Larry Smith said. “I was pleased with our performance, overall. Their pitcher is one of the hardest throwing pitchers in the state and they put the bat on the ball very nicely and consistently. They just couldn’t get that hit to blow it open.”
According to Smith, the turning point in the close-knit contest was when the Lady Pirates chose to switch pitchers in the fifth inning from their ace pitcher Haley Fyant to Camas Renault.
“I think they were able to turn it back in the fifth inning,” Smith said. “They started creeping back and that is when I switched pitchers. Then, Haley came back into the 7th and they finished it off.”
Smith said the move to switch pitchers “paid off big time.
Lady Pirates take momentum into Belgrade Tournament
Polson 11, Hardin 1
The Polson Lady Pirates began the Belgrade Jamboree with an 11-1 victory against eastern opponent Hardin.
Smith said it was “encouraging” that his Lady Pirates were able to compete with several teams in eastern Montana.
“The east, in all sports, has always been dominating in both boys and girls sports,” Smith said. “The Hardin girls were in the state championship and played Columbia Falls in basketball.”
Polson won its game that was called by the time limit they have in the Jamboree.
“Anytime you play a team that had a championship-caliber team in other sports, you will see some of their better athletes,” Smith said. “I was really pleased with the caliber of hitting that our team had.”
Polson also got a contribution from their pitcher Haley Fyant, who struck out eight batters in the game.
Polson 10, Butte Central 4
Lady Pirates’ Coach Smith said he felt the idea behind playing in the Belgrade Invitational was to simulate the tournament atmosphere.
“In this tournament, you make a lot of mental notes because you don’t do a lot of filming of the other teams at away games,” Smith said. “It’s tough to get someone to run that camera for you all of the time.”
Polson accumulated a total of 13 hits in the victory.
“They are a much higher-level caliber team than Harding,” Smith said. “I know a lot of these Butte Central athletes and they are extremely good athletes and well-coached. Butte Central always has extremely scrappy-type athletes and they will never give up on you.”
Smith attributed his team’s success against Butte Central to their strong start.
Polson 7, Great Falls Catholic 0
Polson received another strong pitching performance from Haley Fyant. Fyant again struck out nine of 10 batters she faced and got the necessary run support from her Lady Pirate teammates.
The Pirates quickly won the game in one hour and 15 minutes time.
“They really swung the bats well and I was really shocked when I checked the book afterwards (that Haley had struck out that many batters),” Smith admitted. “It was very strange because these kids are swinging the bat, making contact, and fouling off many pitches.”
Belgrade 2, Polson 1
The Lady Pirates looked as if they were going to sweep the Belgrade Jamboree in a tight-knit game in which only three runs were produced.
“We did well in the first three innings and we had base runners, especially in that first inning,” Smith said. “We should have been able to put them away in that first inning. We just had a couple of mental errors with base running and we weren’t able to get that key hit.”
The Lady Pirates were able to hold Belgrade to a total of five hits.
“Haley pitched the whole game for us again, she did very well, and kept them to five hits,” Smith said. “That is an amazing accomplishment to hold Belgrade to five hits. We had two outs and we were kind of in control. We allowed a walk-off home run.”
Smith, now in his 30th season of coaching softball, said sometimes softball simply comes down to the team that makes the least mistakes.
“I’ve said this for years since I’ve been coaching softball,” Smith said. “When two good quality teams play each other, it’s the one team that makes a mistake that loses it. That is what happened here. We are improving week in and week out. That is where you want to peak and we showed a lot of good improvement this week.”