HELENA — After splitting during the regular season, it was only fitting that Missoula Sentinel and Kalispell Glacier, met for the Western AA softball championship.
The rubber match though, went to the Spartans, the No. 2 seed starting the tournament, and thanks to its 13-3 win over top-seeded Glacier, Sentinel is now the Western AA champion.
“It feels really good,” Sentinel senior Morgan Chase told 406mtsports.com after the win. “We worked our butts off this offseason and it feels good to be rewarded for that.”
Joining Sentinel at the Class AA state tournament next week will be Glacier, the runner-up, as well as Helena Capital and Helena High, which took third and fourth.
“It’s really exciting, especially for the seniors,” Sentinel head coach Dustin Delridge said. “They have been working for this for the past four years and didn’t get to play last year. It was an exciting tournament and we had four great teams at the end. It’s exciting, rewarding and deserved. We beat a great team here today in Glacier.
The temperature was about 30 degrees cooler than on Tuesday, the first day of the Western AA divisional, and neither team started hot offensively, as the game was scoreless through two innings.
Grace Hardy, a Montana softball signee, brought home the first run of the day with an RBI single in the top of the third. Keena Kay brought her in and Addy Gaub also drove in a run, making it 4-0 Spartans.
It was 8-1 Sentinel when Kynzie Mohl, another Montana softball signee, hit her fourth home run of the tournament for Glacier in the fifth, trimming the lead to 8-3.
Yet, in the top of the sixth, Haley Wolsky answered with a home run of her own for Sentinel and it was 9-3 at that point. Sentinel added four more runs over the last two innings, giving them a 10-run margin of victory.
“We were very eager to beat Glacier,” Chase said. “They are a great team and we went back and forth with them during the season. We laid off the high pitches after the first inning and hit the ball on the ground.”
Gaub and Kody Fraser led the way for Sentinel with three hits. Hardy and Amy Taylor added two hits each. Gaub also pitched in with a game-high four RBI.
Mohl was 3-for-4 for Glacier in the loss with a home run and two RBI.
Charlee Hoover got the win on the mound for Sentinel and was credited with five strikeouts, while Ella Farrell was given the loss for Glacier.
The Wolfpack will open against Billings Senior at the Class AA state tournament next week in Kalispell. Sentinel, which is going in as the top seed in the Western AA will take on Great Falls High. It starts Thursday.
Semifinals: Glacier 16, Helena High 10
On Tuesday, Kalispell Glacier took advantage of the long ball and belted four home runs in a 16-10 win over Helena High to punch its own ticket to the Class AA state tournament.
Early on, with the wind blowing out, Helena High notched a couple of home runs in the second inning, one from Brooke Richardson and another from Amber Countryman, which put Helena in front 5-2 over the top-seeded Wolfpack.
Kynzie Mohl, a University of Montana commit, started the game on the mound for Glacier but made her real impact at the plate.
With Glacier trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the third, Mohl gave the Wolfpack their first lead on a grand slam, making it 8-4. Later, with the scored tied 9-9, Mohl hit another go-ahead home run, a two-run shot.
“It got us really hyped up as a team,” Mohl said of her grand slam, which was her second of the day. “Then, we started to believe in ourselves and we realized that we could get it done.”
Glacier finished with four home runs as a team, but none were bigger than the two hit by Mohl.
“I’d expect nothing less of Kynzie,” Glacier head coach Abby Connolly said. “She’s just the consummate softball player and can really deliver at all times. I knew that she was going to trust Ella (Farrell) in the circle and do her job behind the plate, and then at the plate.”
Freshman Ella Farrell got the win on the mound in relief for the Wolfpack. She surrendered five runs on eight hits, but struck out seven on a tough day for pitchers.
“Helena is a great team,” Connolly said. “They have been our achilles heel a little bit. They are a great hitting team and we knew that we were going to have to out-hit them and I’m just really proud of our girls for bouncing back.”
The Wolfpack, who won the Western AA title back in 2019, will look to win it again, this time, without rain having a role.
“We won the conference two years and got in the rain by default,” Connolly said said. “So we would really like to come out here in the dirt and earn it.”
Quarterfinals: Kalispell Glacier 32, Missoula Hellgate 0
The top-seeded team in the Western AA came flying out of the gates Tuesday at the Western AA Divisional as Kalispell Glacier scored an MHSA record 31 runs in the bottom of the first inning in what ended up as a 32-0 victory over Missoula Hellgate in the quarterfinals at Batch Field in Helena.
The previous MHSA record was 19 runs in an inning, which was set by Libby against Bigfork back in 1992. It would also rank ninth all-time in single-game scoring, falling just short of Cut Bank’s 33 runs back in 1992. The single-game record is 51 and is held by Great Falls High, St. Ignatius and Billings West.
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