Lady Pirates softball places fourth at state

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POLSON HIGH School players Kaelyn Smith (left) and Quinn Motichka (right) celebrate after rallying from a 7-0 deficit with a 10-7 victory over Frenchtown High School Thursday afternoon at Frenchtown High School. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Polson High School softball coach Larry Smith has talked up his team’s resiliency all season and the team showcased it at the Montana High School Association Class A Tournament May 24-26 at Frenchtown High School.

The Lady Pirates found themselves uncharacteristically trailing Frenchtown High School 7-0 and ended up defeating them by generating ten unanswered runs en route to 10-7 first round victory.

“This bunch, they aren’t going to quit,” Smith said. “They kept battling and demonstrating their resilience throughout the tournament. They really showed (their resilience) in that particular game against Frenchtown.”

Determined to win the Class A state title, the Lady Pirates fought Belgrade hard in their 8-0 loss that pushed them to the loser’s bracket of the tournament Friday morning.

In the loser’s bracket, the Lady Pirates faced a familiar opponent in Frenchtown. This time, Polson was the team that got an early lead but they weren’t able to sustain that lead in an 8-9 loss. A loss that ended the Lady Pirates’ season as the fourth place finishers.

“They did what we did to them in the first game,” Lady Pirates’ skipper Larry Smith said. “On Saturday, they returned the favor and did it to us in the elimination game.”

Smith attributed the loss to the Lady Broncs to the amount of mistakes his team made in the final game.

“In our last game Saturday, our defense kind of got away from us there in the middle innings and we made an abundance of mistakes that we normally don’t make,” Smith said. “That is very uncharacteristic of our team and players. All of those mistakes happened in the fifth inning.”

Smith said he felt errors can come in waves, and that is one of the major factors contributing to Polson’s losses to Belgrade and Frenchtown.

“In all sports, it is that way and I’ve seen that basically throughout my coaching career,” Smith said. “When a couple of good teams go head-to-head, more than likely one is going to lose. When you make a mistake, the other team jumps all over it.”

Smith said he felt the season pretty much played out how he expected at the start of the season with Belgrade defeating Hamilton to capture the State crown.

“We wound up in the top four and that is something that I saw all season long,” Smith said. “I thought we would be right up there playing for the championship run, especially the way we were playing towards the end of the year, but it didn’t quite end up that way. We had a successful season. We had a rough start (to the season) but were able to get our feet underneath us and played well against especially good teams.”

Smith credits the team chemistry his team was able to develop this season.

“That is how we kept improving in the year and towards the end, we were able to accomplish a lot,” Smith said. “We came very far together (as a team) and were able to gel together. We had a lot of new people (on our team) and we had a nucleus of three returning starters. We had a lot of younger players playing with older players and players that were new to our system. The way they came together (as a team) was pretty impressive.”

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