Maidens on a roll in their bid for state

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THE RONAN Maidens celebrate after Emilie Corley (left) with Courtnee Clairmont (middle) and Jaylyn Hakes (right) after Corley unloaded a grand-slam in the bottom of the first inning to give the Maidens the lead during Saturday afternoon’s game against Columbia Falls at the Frenchtown Invitational at Frenchtown High School. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

The Ronan Maiden’s softball team may be one team that no one wants to face if they are able to qualify for the Montana High School Activities Association state softball tournament, and for good reason.

The Maidens have won five consecutive games and are left with three critical conference road games against Columbia Falls on May 7, Polson on May 15 and Browning on May 19.

A major contributing factor to Ronan’s rise at this juncture of the season is confidence along with big-time hitting. Both are major catalysts to the Maidens’ success, according to coach Kellie Manyhides.

“I think our team is just really starting to peak at the right moment,” Manyhides said. “(Our team) is gelling well and we are solid on offense top to bottom (in the batting order). I love hearing coaches talk about the eight or nine batters in our lineup. I just start laughing thinking yeah, throw one of my players a meatball and see what happens.”

Indeed, coaches around the Mission Valley and opposing coaches are starting to talk about the Maidens’ hitting prowess and for good reason. Even in recent losses to powerhouses like Hamilton and Polson, Ronan generated a total of 21 runs and came within two runs or defeating both of those teams.

“I am getting a lot of comments from other coaches,” Manyhides said. “Our kids are getting calls from players they played with this summer and friends they know who said ‘man, you should have had them.’ I am very happy to be back up in Class A. The competition is really, really tough there.”

One of Ronan’s top-tier players, Emilie Corley unloaded a four-rungrand slam in the bottom of the first to give the Maidens the lead in a critical conference showdown with Columbia Falls at the Frenchtown Tournament Saturday afternoon at Frenchtown High School.

“It was beautiful and it was a great shot,” Manyhides said. “(It was) a beautiful shot with the bases loaded. The rest of the girls really stroked the ball. We are a hitting team and we continue to maintain that confidence moving forward.”

It isn’t just Corlee’s bat that has other coaches talking. It is the whole team’s ability to hit that could give Ronan a chance to win a slugfest.

The defense has also shored up in recent weeks with a reshuffled infield and plays made by Marissa Mock and Katlyn Santos, according to Manyhides.

“I am just really proud of our defense,” Manyhides said.

Manyhides knows her Maidens are starting to garner the attention of other teams and coaches for all the right reasons

“I know the other coaches are starting to talk about it,” Manyhides said. “When you get other coaches coming up and starting to talk about it how well your team is hitting, that is a good thing.”

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