Polson Purple Rain prepares for Team USA state tourney

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POLSON PURPLE RAIN player Paige Noyes slides into second base in the championship game against Great Falls in the championship game of the Splash Tournament. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

“I saw a real look of disappointment on their face and they looked kind of angry that they couldn’t continue in the Emerald Tournament,” Smith said. “That loss really bothered them and I think losing is going to be helpful. We have a very, very quality team and we have excellent players on this team.”

Smith said he felt the Spokane Thunder had “improved significantly” since the last time he saw them play in a tournament one week ago.

“Like I mentioned, I saw them play a week ago and they didn’t look like a great team,” Smith said. “They sure looked super in the Emerald Tournament. Wow! What a difference a week makes when a hand picked all-star team finally comes together. They just don’t have a weakness.”

Smith said there were several variables that led to the their semifinal loss in the Emerald Tournament.

“I thought in the game we played today we needed a couple of things to go our way and our hitters needed to find the seam in the defense and take charge of the game,” Smith said. “Our gals put the bat on the ball but we just couldn’t find the gaps and the seams in the defense. We made good solid contact. We just hit the ball right to them.”

Smith said in order for his team to be “successful” at state, they must play their game: small ball, which is a method when a team utilizes its speed to disorient the opponent.

“I think we must play small ball to make our breakthrough in the tournament in order to be successful,” Smith said. “We must use our team speed to get on base by bunting, slapping and getting fast players on base to put pressure on the defense in hopes they make mistakes. We can force the defense to make a mistake by committing errors such as a bad throw or a catch. On the other end, we hope to stretch our base running and to put pressure on the defense.”

For years, softball was and still is dominated by the pitcher but this trend has changed with the advent of technology, according to Smith. Smith said he has noticed more hitters taking pitchers to more full counts in recent years.

Smith said he expects his team hitting and speed to carry them as far as they can go through state.

“There are good teams with good pitchers and they’ve dominated in the past,” Smith said. “However, the hitters have caught up to the good pitchers. With the advent of technology, there is so much educational stuff they can get to quickly and it is easy for hitters to pick up on.”

One characteristic he felt will serve his team will is their desire.

“There is no quit in them and they are fighting right down to the last at-bat,” Smith said. “People are on base and they are trying to score. They don’t want to quit. Something positive has to happen. This year, our team has really earned it because nothing will be given to you.”

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