Headed into the tournament, former Polson High School softball coach Larry Smith admitted hosting a Montana High School Association Class A state tournament can work two ways: for you, or against you.
In the case of the Lady Pirates, who were the host team this year, they didnt falter to being in front of their hometown.
They thrived, and the result was a second-place finish after falling to the Belgrade 11-1 in the MHSA Class A championship game Saturday afternoon at Polson High Schools softball complex.
The Polson softball team has become known for their hitting prowess throughout the regular season, and they continued that trend into the Montana High School Association Class A postseason.
Belgrade, who will be joining the MHSA Class AA ranks next season, was able to utilize their playoff experience the Panthers have accumulated over the last two seasons to capture their second consecutive MHSA Class A state softball title.
Next year, the Pirates and the rest of the Class A competition, wont have to worry about Belgrade, a school that grew exponentially because of the housing boom in the greater Bozeman area.
The Lady Pirates, who were the host team, started the second round of the softball playoffs, after earning a bye by romping Fergus.
Polson was catapulted by Lexi Oriens grand slam homerun at the bottom of the third that began their all-out assault on Fergus.
Josie Caye proved hitting was contagious, as she smashed a sole homerun in the fourth inning, which was Cayes seventh homerun on the season.
The Lady Pirates six runs in the third and three at the bottom of the sixth were enough to capture an 11-1 victory in the second round of the MHSA Class A state playoffs.
In their victory over Fergus, the Lady Pirates had multiple top hitters. Josie Caye and Kaylanna DesJarlais were 3-for-4. Paige Noyes went 2-for-4, Kallie Finbeiner was 2-for-4, and Lexi Orien was 2-for-4 in the effort.
Lisa Castillo also had a double in the victory.
After Polson fell to Hamilton 2-1, they climbed through the losers bracket.
Polson rolled Columbia Falls 11-1, they beat their long-standing rival Frenchtown 7-6, and avenged their loss to Hamilton to climb themselves back into the championship game against Belgrade.
Polson, who had played Belgrade tight in previous games this season, was overpowered by the Belgrade team 11-1 in the MHSA Class A championship game.
The Panthers, who will transfer to MHSA Class AA classification next season, limited the lethal Lady Pirates bats.
Lexi Orien and Kallie Finkbeiner would be the only Lady Pirates base runners to reach scoring position in the loss.
The Lady Pirates, who finished second in the MHSA Class A classification, were an extension of the Polson softball system that has 8U to 16, to 18U this year. The softball system, which provides aspiring Lady Pirates with essentially a farm system to cultivate up-and-coming talent, proved to be valuable this year. Head coach Jamie Hansen, in his first year of replacing Larry Smith, proved to be more than an adequate replacement as the Lady Pirates continue to forge ahead in their quest for an MHSA Class A state title. A quest that should be made easier with Belgrade transitioning to MHSA Class AA.
At Polson in the State A title tilt, the Lady Pirates would need a Herculian effort to harvest gold, one that would require the equivalent of prying the coveted trophy from between the claws of the paws of the two-time defending champion Lady Panthers. Much like an apex predator at the top of the food chain guarding its prey, AA-bound Belgrade would be reluctant to part with their cherished prize. Tournament MVP pitcher Erin Elgas would supply the arm, backed up by the solid gloves of defensive fielders behind her and some blistering bats at the plate, to minimize whatever chances might be lurking among the shadows for the top prize to gravitate into the mitts of somebody else.
Maidens gain valueable state experience
Key hinge sequence: In the bottom of the first with the Ronana Maidens leading 2-1 with two outs, third base infielder Emilee Corley fielded a ground ball with two runners on and dove with ball in glove onto the bag to beat the advancing runner coming hard from second base for the force. The call on the play found the runner safe, thereby extending the inning which precipitated a subsequent hit and fielding errors which resulted in five runs plating.
The catastrophic convergence of all three errors in the same inning, a strategic call that didnt go their way and Hamilton hitting would ultimately proved detrimental to their aspirations to advance to the next round.
After the disappointing loss, Ronan fell 15-2 against Laurel, and were blanked by Columbia Falls.
The Maidens, ended their season strong, qualifying for state on the last game of the regular season, under first-year coach Kaylee Cheff, and will only look to build on momentum moving forward.
-John Heglie contributed to this article
State A championship
Belgrade 11, Polson 1
In the fifth, 6-2 Panther outfielder Madi Kreiger would stretch her glove over the left field fence for an ESPN highlight reel type catch to commit highway robbery of what would have been a Kallie Finkbeiner home run. Lexi Orien and Finkbeiner would be the only base runners to reach scoring position. Polsons best team finish since 2013.
(1NW) Polson (21-6), (1C) Belgrade (23-0, 29-1)
Polson 000 10 1 3 2*
Belgrade 070 04 11 13 2*
Lauren Vergeront (2IP: 4H,0K,2W,2HB), (3) Katelyne Druyvestein (0K,9H,3A) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. Erin Elgas (6K) and Haylee Curry. W Elgas (17-0). L Vergeront (19-6).
POLSON Josie Caye 0-2, DesJarlais 0-3, Paige Noyes 0-2, Lexi Orien 1-2, SaVanna Carpentier 0-2, Vergeront 0-1, Druyvestein 1-1, Kobbey Smith 0-2, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Kallie Finkbeiner 1-2, (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
BELGRADE Kenna Thomas *2-2, Kaleigh Bauerle 1-1, Maddisen Tomasetti 1-1, Sheridan Smith 0-1, Madi Kreiger 2-3, Olivia Cook 2-4, Lanie Morgan 2-3, Hazel Eaton 2-3, Ellie Milesnick 0-2, Curry 1-3, Kamie Gorrell 1-3, (flex) Elgas.
*HR Cook; [Finkbeiner robbed!]. 2B Bauerle, Morgan; *Orien. RBIs Thomas, Tomasetti 2, Kreiger 2, Cook 3, Gorrell, Morgan; Druyvestein. SH Thomas, Tomasetti, Milesnick. BB Caye; Tomasetti, Kreiger. HB Thomas, Morgan. ROE Vergeront; Kreiger, Curry. FC Gorrell. SB Morgan. DP b4: Carpentier, Noyes. (Sa25May19gm22st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: BelGC (P:3E/) - Orien (LPiScore: 1B+E8, iJHt: 2B); Thomas 1-1 (LPiScore: HB,SH,1B; BelgGC/iJHt:ab2=H).
loser takes third
Polson 6, Hamilton 2
Kaylanna DesJarlais and Josie Caye both mashed taters, DesJarlais in the third for her fifth of the season and Caye in the fifth for her eighth of the season.
(1NW) Polson (21-5), (2SW) Hamilton (19-5-2)
Hamilton 100 010 2 5 1*
Polson 201012 6 8 3*
Jorden Taggart and Katelyne Druyvestein (4.33IP: 1K,3W), Lauren Vergeront (2K,0H,1W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais, (4) Kallie Finkbeiner, (6) DesJarlais. W Druyvestein (1-0). L Taggert. Sv Vergeront.
HAMILTON Sophia Doyle 2-4, Abby Johnson 0-2, Mikayln Brickley 0-3, Taggart 0-3, Maggie Ringer 0-2, Chantele Sisson 0-3, Haley Frey 0-2, Olivia Zepeda 2-3, Phoebe Howard 0-1, Maria Gutierrez *0-1, (flex) Kyla Shepherd, (cr) Madison Johnson.
POLSON Josie Caye 1-3, DesJarlais 2-3, Paige Noyes *2-3, Lexi Orien 0-3, SaVanna Carpentier 0-3, Vergeront 1-3, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Grace Quinones 0-1, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-2, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
HR DesJarlais, Caye. RBIs Ringer; *Orien, DesJarlais, Caye, Vergeront, Ko.Smith. BB Johnson 2, Howard, Ringer. FC *Doyle, Taggart. SB S.Brown. CS Doyle. 2DP t2: Costilla, Noyes; t7: Caye, Noyes. Runs Doyle, Zepeda; Caye, DesJarlais, Vert, Noyes 2, Brown. (Sa25May19gm21st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: HamGC(H:5H,2E/P:7H,1E) - Ringer (H:1sb; P:0sb), Gutierrez 1-3 (t7- H:1B, P:ROE); Noyes (b1- H:ROE; P:1B), Orien 1rbi (H:1rbi, P:2rbi)
loser takes fourth
Polson 7, Frenchtown 6 (8 inn.)
Kaylanna DesJarlais, Lisa Costilla and Kobbey Smith all mashed taters of a solo variety with Smith supplying the walkoff for the win. Classic Frenchtown vs Polson rivalry, a contest that seesaws back and forth, hangs in the balance and the outcome is uncertain until the final out is secured.
(1NW) Polson (20-5), (1SW) Frenchtown (17-8)
Frenchtown 002 000 40 6 11 2*
Polson 120 020 11 7 10 1*
Claire Bagnell (1K) and Kendra Williams. Lauren Vergeront (5.33IP: 5K,1W), (6) Katelyne Druyvestein (1.33IP: 1K,2H,2W), (7) Vergeront (1.33IP: 2K,1H,2W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W Vergeront (19-5). L Cl.Bagnell.
FRENCHTOWN Cassidy Bagnell *2-4, Mikaela Field 1-5, Layne Bauer 1-5, Taylor Garren 2-4, Cassidy Moen 2-3, Cl. Bagnell 1-2, Hailey Arthur 2-4, Hallie Habeck 0-4, Williams 0-3, (flex) Shelby Miotke.
POLSON Josie Caye 2-3, DesJarlais 2-4, Paige Noyes 1-4, Lexi Orien 2-3, SaVanna Carpentier 0-4, Vergeront 1-3, Druyvestein 0-1, Kobbey Smith 1-4, Lisa Costilla 1-3, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-3, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
HR DesJarlais, Costilla, Ko.Smith. 2B Ca.Bagnell, Bauer; Orien, Caye. RBIs Bauer, Garren 2, Cl.Bagnell, Arthur 2; Caye, DesJarlais, Orien 2, Ko.Smith, Costilla 2. BB Ca.Bagnell, Moen, Cl.Bagnell 2, Williams; Caye, Orien. ROE Ca.Bagnell; Finkbeiner. FC Vergeront, Ko.Smith. SB Ca.Bagnell 2. CS Caye. Runs Ca.Bagnell, Field, Bauer, Garren, Moen, Williams; Caye, DesJarlais, (cr) Vert, Ko.Smith 2, Costilla, Finkbeiner. (Sa25May19gm21st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: FrGC(F:12H,2E/P:13H,0E) - Vergeront (F:H, P:FC), Ko.Smith (F:H, P:FC), Finkbeiner (F:H,P:ROE).
Polson 11, Columbia Falls 1
Lexy Orien mashed her sixth tater of the season, while Josie Caye, Paige Noyes and Lauren Vergeront inflicted doubles troubles upon the conference rival WildKats.
(1NW) Polson (19-5), (2NW) C-Falls (14-12-1)
C-Falls 000 001 1 3 4
Polson 113 222 11 12 0
Savvy Ellis and GraceAnne Sevesind. Lauren Vergeront (5.33IP:4K,1HB), (6) Ellie Thiel and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W Vergeront (18-5). L Ellis. Sv Thiel.
COLUMBIA FALLS Kaylee Ashe 1-3, Alyssa Blankenship 0-3, Trista Cowan 0-3, Sevesind 1-2, Ryley Kehr 0-2, Isabel Johnson 0-2, Chloe Kienas 0-2, Ellis 0-1, McKenna Rensel 1-2.
POLSON Josie Caye *2-2, DesJarlais *1-3, Grace Quinones 0-1, Paige Noyes 2-4, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *2-4, Vergeront 1-2, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-3, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-2, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
HR Orien. 2B Caye, Noyes, Vergeront, Carpentier. RBIs Noyes, Orien 2, Vergeront, Carpentier 2. SF Vergeront. SH Frey. BB Caye 2, Finkbeiner. HB Ellis. SB Caye 2, (cr) Vert. DP b3:Caye, Noyes. (Fr24May19gm18st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: LPiScore (P:9H,0E) - Caye 1-2 (ROE vs 1B:iJHt), DesJarlais 0-2 (SH vs BT:iJHt), Carpentier 1-4 (ROE vs 1B+E:iJHt).
Hamilton 2, Polson 1
Knotted at one apiece, the Broncs bombers from Hamilton would plate a late inning run to buck the Bucs from the saddle of their own tournament.
(1NW) Polson (18-5), (2SW) Hamilton (19-3-2)
Polson 100 000 0 1 9 2*
Hamilton 010 001 x 2 4 1*
Lauren Vergeront (4IP:3K,1W,1HB,1PO,1A), (5) Katelyn Druyvestein (2K,1A) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. Jorden Taggart and Haley Frey. W Taggart. L Vergeront (17-5)
POLSON Josie Caye 0-2, DesJarlais 1-3, Paige Noyes 2-3, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *1-3, Vergeront 1-2, Druyvestein 0-1, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-3, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
HAMILTON Sophia Doyle 1-3, Abby Johnson 2-3, Mikayln Brickley 0-2, Taggart 0-2, Maggie Ringer 1-3, Chantele Sisson 0-3, Haley Frey 0-2, Olivia Zepeda 1-2, Phoebe Howard 0-2, (flex) Kyla Shepherd, (cr) Madison Johnson.
2B DesJarlais, Ko.Smith; Abby Johnson. RBIs Zepeda. SH Costilla; Brickley. BB Caye 2; DesJarlais,Taggart. HB Frey. *ROE Frey. FC Orien, Ko.Smith. DP: b2: Brickley, Johnson, Sisson. (Th23May19gm13st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: LPiScore (P:7H/H:4H), HamGC (P:4H,1E/H:5H,3E) - Noyes 1-3 (H:ROE, P:H+E), Carpentier 0-3 (H:ROE, P:1B+E), Vergeront 0-2 (H:ROE only, P:H+E)
Polson 11, Fergus 1
Lexy Orien mashed a tater in the bottom of the third for her fifth home run of the season, a grand slameroni, while Josie Caye mashed a solo tater in the fourth, her seventh of the season as the Lady Pirates tethered the talons of the Lady Golden Eagles.
(1NW) Polson (18-4), (2C) Fergus (14-10)
Fergus 100 000 1 2 3*
Polson 006 113 11 18 2*
Jessica Morgan, (6) Macy Mangold and Jacy Ayers. Lauren Vergeront (7K,2W,1HB), (6) Katelyne Druyvestein (1W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W Vergeront (17-4). L J.Morgan.
FERGUS (LEWISTOWN) Kaycee Gordon 0-3, Morgan 0-3, Mangold 0-1, Bailey Castillo 2-3
Hailey Welsch 0-3, Libby Jenness 0-2, Madison Affolder 0-3, Chelsea Jensen 0-1, Jacy Ayers 0-2.
POLSON Josie Caye 3-4, DesJarlais 3-4, Paige Noyes 2-4, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *1-3, Vergeront *1-3, Druyvestein 1-1, Kobbey Smith 3-4, Lisa Costilla 0-4, Kallie Finkbeiner 2-4, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).
HR Orien, Caye. 2B Castillo; Carpentier. RBIs Caye 2, Orien 4, Ko.Smith 2, Finkbeiner 2. SH Carpentier. BB Mangold 2, Jenness. HB Jensen. ROE Gordon; Ko.Smith. FC Caye, DesJarlais, Runs Mangold; Caye 2, (cr) Vert, Orien 2, Carpentier, (cr) Brown 2, Ko.Smith 2, Finkbeiner. (Th23May19gm5st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: Pvenue - Carpentier 1-4 (fo,H,k,SH)
Pvenue (F:2H,2E/P:17H,1E), FergGC (F:2H,3E/P:16H,1E) - Ko.Smith 4H,3rbi
Columbia Falls 14, Ronan 0 (lo)
(3NW) Ronan (9-15), (2NW) C-Falls (14-11-1)
C-Falls 003 030 8 14 17 1*
Ronan 000 000 0 0 3 3*
Savvy Ellis and GraceAnne Sevesind. Kiara Sherman (3K,2W), (7) Melanie Adams (2K,2H) and Maddy Mae Miller. W Ellis. L Sherman (2-2).
COLUMBIA FALLS Kaylee Ashe 3-5, Alyssa Blankenship 1-3, Trista Cowan 4-5, GraceAnne Sevesind 3-5, Ryley Kehr *2-5, Isabell Johnson *2-4, Chloe Kienas 0-3, *Abbie Darsow 1-1, Ellis 1-4, McKenna Rensel 0-4, (cr) Darsow.
RONAN Madison Clairmont 1-3, Regan Clairmont 0-3, Miller 0-2, Emilie Corley 1-3, Rylie BigBeaver *1-3, Liz Bluemel 0-3, Sherman 0-3, Ashlie Welker 0-2, Julia Daley 0-1, (flex) Brooklyn Kenelty.
3B Cowan. 2B Blankenship, Kehr, Cowan 2, Ellis. RBIs Ashe, Cowan 3, Sevesind 2, Johnson, Kehr, Ellis 2. BB Blankenship 2; Miller. *ROE *Johnson, Sevesind; Welker. FC Kehr; Corley, BigBeaver, Bluemel. (Fr24May19gm16)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternate assessments exist: bottom third of batting order modified prior to start of game from lineup submitted (sequence submitted: Kienas, dp:Jazzy Marino, Rensel, flex: Ellis). Pvenue (CF:19H/R:3H,1E) - Ashe 2-5 (ROE vs 1B), Johnson 3-4 (ROE vs 1B).
Ronan 15, Laurel 2 (lo)
The Maidens derailed the Lady Locomotives by ten run rule when Liz Bluemel hit a walk-off grand slam
(3NW) Ronan (9-14), (2E) Laurel (11-9)
Laurel 000 20 2 4 5*
Ronan 360 24 15 12 1
Paige Nistler, (2) Ella Crookston (5K) and Taylor Feller. Kiara Sherman (1K) and Maddy Mae Miller. W Sherman (2-1). L Nistler.
LAUREL Deyshia Goodwin 0-2, Feller 0-1, Taryn Wommack 1-2, Riley Chapman 1-3, Lexie Stahlman 1-3, Madison Cooney *0-2, Nistler 0-1, Crookston 0-1, Zoe Thomae 1-2, Bailey Chapman *0-2.
RONAN Madison Clairmont 1-4, Regan Clairmont 1-3, Miller 0-3, Emilie Corley 2-3, Rylie BigBeaver 1-3, Liz Bluemel 2-4, Sherman 2-3, Ashlie Welker 1-3, Julia Daley *1-3, (flex) Brooklyn Kenelty, (cr) Lexi Wirz (p), (cr) Hannah Rowe (c).
HR Bluemel. 2B R.Clairmont, Corley 2. RBIs B.Chapman 2; M.Clairmont, R.Clairmont, Corley 3, Bluemel 6, Welker 2, Daley. BB Feller. HB Goodwin, Feller, Wommack; BigBeaver. ROE Chapman 2; R.Clairmont, Welker, Daley. FC Cooney, Stahlman; M.Clairmont, Bluemel. SB M.Clairmont, (cr) Wirz 2, Welker, Daley. DP b1: Cooney, B.Chapman. (Fr24May19gm12st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternate assessments exist: LauGC (L:5H,5E/R:12H,1E) - B.Chapman 1-2 (L:H, R:ROE); Daley 2-2 (L:H, R:ROE). Pvenue iScore (L:4H,4E/R:11H,3E) - Cooney 0H (FC vs ROE),
Hamilton 9, Ronan 7
Key hinge sequence: In the bottom of the first with the Maidens leading 2-1 with two outs, third base infielder Emilee Corley fielded a ground ball with two runners on and dove with ball in glove onto the bag to beat the advancing runner coming hard from second base for the force. The call on the play found the runner safe, thereby extending the inning which precipitated a subsequent hit and fielding errors which resulted in five runs plating. The catastrophic convergence of all three errors in the same inning, a strategic call that didnt go their way and Hamilton hitting would ultimately proved detrimental to their aspirations to advance to the next round.
(3NW) Ronan (8-14), (2SW) Hamilton (17-3-2)
Ronan 201 020 2 7 10 3*
Hamilton 602 100 x 9 11 4*
Jorden Taggart (7K,3W,1HB) and Haley Frey, (7) Brook Alexander. Kiara Sherman (3K,1W,1A) and Maddy Mae Miller. W Taggart. L Sherman (1-1).
RONAN Madison Clairmont 0-3, Regan Clairmont 0-4, Miller 2-3, Emilie Corley 2-3, Rhylie BigBeaver 0-3, Liz Bluemel *2-4, Kiara Sherman 0-4, Ashlie Welker 0-2, Julia Daley 0-1, Brooklyn Kenelty 0-2, Hailey Webster 0-1, (cr) Hannah Rowe.
HAMILTON Sophia Doyle 3-4, Abby Johnson 2-4, Mikayln Brickley 1-3, Taggart *0-4, Haley Frey *0-2, Brook Alexander 1-1, Maggie Ringer *2-4, Chantele Sisson *1-3, Olivia Zepeda *0-3, Phoebe Howard 1-3, (flex) Kyla Shepherd 0-3, (cr) Madison Johnson.
3B Doyle. 2B A.Johnson 2, Howard, Brickley. RBI Bluemel 3, Miller; Johnson, Howard. SH Frey. BB M.Clairmont, Miller, BigBeaver; Brickley. HB Corley. ROE M.Clairmont, R.Clairmont, BigBeaver, Bluemel; Taggart, Zepeda, Howard. FC BigBeaver; Ringer, Zepeda, Sisson, Taggart. D3K Daley. SB (cr) Rowe, Bluemel; Doyle, Ringer. GIDP Corley. DP (t3)H:Johnson,Brickley,Sisson; (b7)R: Bluemel,M.Clairmont. (Th23May19gm2st)
Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where differences arise among alternate assessments: HamGC (R:6H,2E/H:11H,4E) - Taggart 1-4 (b1-H:1B; R:ROE), Sisson 0-3 (FC,go,FC), Zepeda 0-3 (ROE,FC,go)
Pvenue (R:5H,4E/H:13H,6E) - Bluemel 1-4 (2rbi), conflation w/ pinch hitter: Welker 3ab, Kenelty 3ab; Frey 3ab, Ringer 3-4 (H/JH: FC,H,H,fo), Sisson 1-3 (1B,go,go). iJHt (R:6H,3E/H:10H,4E