Lady Pirates finish second at Class A softball state tourney
POLSON – Having survived an 18-hour gauntlet of pressure-packed softball, the Polson Lady Pirates came up short during the Class A softball state championship on Saturday at the Polson Softball Complex.
The Belgrade Panthers completed a four-game sweep at the twelve-team tournament and defeated Polson 11-1 in five innings behind state tournament MVP pitcher Erin Elgas who limited the Lady Pirate batters to just one run on three hits.
It was the Panthers’ third consecutive state championship as they finished the season with a 23-0 record. For Polson, the game was a milestone after not reaching state play in nearly a decade. First-year head coach Jami Hanson helped take the girls to this level.
The road to Saturday’s title game was an uphill climb for the Lady Pirates, despite being the Northwest A regular-season champions with a 17-4 record and having a Thursday number-one seed first round bye.
Polson won their first game of the tournament on Thursday afternoon with an 11-1 win over Fergus. In that game, Josie Caye and Lexi Orien each had a home run.
On Friday morning, Polson fell in a tight 2-1 game to Hamilton but rebounded against Columbia Falls with a 11-0 sixth inning mercy rule win. Orien also had a home run against the Wildkats, which was her second of the tournament.
The Lady Pirates, on Saturday morning, kept their state championship hopes alive with an extra inning nail biter against Frenchtown. It took a Kobbey Smith walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Lady Pirates the 7-6 win. Kaylanna DesJarlais and Lisa Costilla also hit home runs for Polson in the game.
In a pressure-packed loser-takes-third game, the Lady Pirates avenged their Friday 2-1 loss to Hamilton with a 6-2 win over the Lady Broncs. DesJarlais hit her second home run of the day, while Orien blasted her third home run of the tournament.
In the championship, the Belgrade bats exploded for seven runs in the second inning to give the two-time defending state champs a 7-0 lead. Both teams remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when Polson scored a run on a Katelyne Druyvestein RBI single.
The game ended in the bottom of the fifth inning with Belgrade scoring an addition four runs. Polson pitcher Lauren Vergeront, catcher DesJarlais and shortstop Caye represented the Lady Pirates on the 2019 State A Softball All-Tournament team. Earning honorable mentions for Polson were Orien and Smith.
Also, under a new head coach the Ronan Maidens made their first state playoff appearance since returning to Class A two seasons ago. First year coach Kaylee Cheff and her young Maiden squad went 1-2 in the double-elimination tournament.
In the late game on Thursday, the Maidens regrouped from their very close 9-7 morning loss to Hamilton with a 15-2 win over Laurel. Unfortunately, in the Friday morning loser-out game with Columbia Falls the Maidens were shut out 14-0.