The Glacier Wolfpack are back in the Class AA state softball tournament, only this time they didn’t sneak in with a low seed.
Last year, the Wolfpack earned Western AA’s fourth seed and then lost consecutive games to Butte and C.M. Russell. In the two losses, Glacier was outscored 20-2.
But this spring, led by a deep lineup of hitters and a solid pitching staff, the Wolfpack enter the Class AA state softball tournament as a favorite. They finished the regular season with an 18-3 (12-2) record and earned the second seed in Western AA behind Missoula Big Sky.
The tournament is held at the Batch Fields in Helena on May 27-29. Glacier plays its first-round game against Eastern AA’s third seed Butte at 2 p.m. on Thursday on field four.
Glacier earned a trip to state by defeating cross-town rival Flathead in consecutive games in a best-of-three playoff series on May 18. Flathead finished the season with a 3-17 (0-14) record.
Helena Capital, the defending Class AA champion, is Western AA’s fourth seed and opens up the tourney against Eastern AA’s first seed C.M. Russell at 2 p.m. on Thursday on field one.
A different school has won the tournament in each of the past four years: Capital in 2009, Billings Senior in 2008, C.M. Russell in 2007 and Missoula Big Sky in 2006. Big Sky also won in 2005.
The rest of Thursday’s first-round matchups are Western No. 1 Missoula Big Sky against Eastern No. 4 Billings Senior at 4 p.m. on field one and Eastern No. 2 Billings West against Western No. 3 Missoula Sentinel at 4 p.m. on field two. The championship is scheduled for noon on Saturday May 29 on field one.
In Class A, three local teams – Polson, Libby and Whitefish – are trying to bring the state crown back to Northwestern A. Polson won the title in 2007 and Libby won it in 2008 before Frenchtown won last year.
Polson claimed Northwestern A’s top seed at the Class A state tourney by finishing with a conference-best record of 15-6 (6-2). Libby came in second at 13-10 (5-3), followed by Whitefish at 8-12 (4-4).
In Class A, there are no qualifying playoffs. The top three teams from each conference during the regular season make the state tournament.
The tournament takes place at the Stewart Park Softball Complex in Billings on May 27-29, with first-round action beginning on Thursday morning.
As the top seed, Polson has a first-round bye and awaits the winner of Eastern No. 2 Laurel and Central No. 3 Fergus (Lewistown), who play at 10 a.m. on field two. Polson then plays the winner at 2 p.m. on field one.
Libby squares off against Eastern No. 3 Sidney at noon on Thursday on field one. The winner of that game moves on to face defending champion Frenchtown at 4 p.m. on field two.
Whitefish plays Southwestern No. 2 Corvallis at noon on Thursday on field two. The winner advances to play Belgrade at 4 p.m. on field one.
The Class B/C state softball tournament is also held at the Stewart Park Softball Complex in Billings on May 27-29.
Thompson Falls enters the tournament as a favorite after winning the Western B-C divisional and finishing the season with a 21-2 record. The Bluehawks’ first-round game is against Eastern No. 4 Conrad at 2 p.m. on Thursday on field four.
Other first-round matchups are Eastern No. 2 Columbus/Absarokee/Park City against Western No. 3 Florence-Carlton at 2 p.m. on field three; Eastern No. 2 Shepherd against Eastern No. 4 Powell County (Deer Lodge) at 4 p.m. on field four; and Western No. 2 Missoula Loyola Sacred Heart against Eastern No. 3 Huntley Project at 4 p.m. on field three.
The matchup between Columbus/Absarokee/Park City and Florence-Carlton is key, as the two teams have combined to win the past six Class B-C state titles. Florence-Carlton won three in a row from 2004-2006 and Columbus/Absarokee/Park City has won the last three.
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