For some, the game goes on.
The Flathead Bravettes’ softball team ended its season with a tough 5-4 loss to Helena Capital at the state tournament in Kalispell. But for senior stars Brianna Compton, Leslie Quay and Christina Zorn, college ball awaits them, though this doesn’t soften the sting from May 25.
“I keep thinking, ‘Can I rewind time?’” Quay said.
The tears told it all for the three seniors after their final high school game: the end of their quest for a state championship, a dream that began on local tee-ball fields more than a decade ago and blossomed into a legitimate chance to win it all in front of their hometown crowd last weekend.
The senior girls guided Flathead to a record of 15-7 this year, a first-round win over Billings Senior in the state tournament and an inning away from playing on the tournament’s final day for the first time since it won the championship in 2003.
Compton, who mixes fastballs with a rare knuckleball, will pitch at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington. Quay will join her there as an outfielder. Zorn, the daughter of Kalispell’s Assistant Superintendent Dan Zorn, has a scholarship to play third base at Cedarville University in Ohio.
The girls were three among eight Bravette seniors this year. Only two juniors were in the regular starting lineup. Of the seven other teams in the state tournament, only Butte had more than four seniors on its whole roster. The girls say that the large collection of seniors gave the team better camaraderie, leadership and friendship – the benefits of playing together for a long time.
“We’re a really tight group,” Compton said. “We just all connected well the whole year.”
For the neutral fan, Friday’s game against Helena Capital was terrific entertainment. But for the hometown crowd, it was gut-wrenching. With Compton dominating on the mound, the Bravettes took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning. There, things briefly fell apart in a flurry of hits and errors, and the teams went to the final inning tied 4-4.
“It was kind of a blur,” Zorn said of the sixth inning.
The Bravettes failed to score in the top of seventh. Then Helena Capital put two runners on base, setting the stage for sophomore Kelsi Brekke’s deep drive to right-center field to end the game.
Zorn said the blur from the events of the sixth inning continued into Coach Dale Beerman’s post-game speech.
“I don’t even remember what he said,” she said. “It was a really hard moment for everybody.”
Compton didn’t have much time to recover. She took off the next day to Spokane to play in a college exposure tournament with all-stars from around Washington. That kind of dedication made her the Bravettes’ MVP as a junior. Zorn will play for the Glacier Emeralds this summer. Quay, for the first time since she began playing softball, is going to take the summer off.
Between this summer and next year’s season at Cedarville, Zorn has become a full-time softball player.
“You have to keep playing to keep up your game,” Zorn said. “I’m definitely not sick of it – I enjoy playing year-round.”