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Kats heading to Butte for state tourney

by TERESA BYRD
Staff Writer | May 26, 2021 7:35 AM

The Wildkat softball team is headed to the 2021 State Class A Softball Tournament in Butte this week after securing the No. 3 seed for the Northwest A conference.

The Kats finished up their regular season last week with losses against two of class A’s top ranked teams, Frenchtown, 11-5 on Tuesday and Polson, 6-5, on Thursday. The competition was valuable preparation for the upcoming state tournament, said head coach Dave Kehr. On Tuesday Frenchtown came out with an early lead, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first.

The Wildkats continued to struggle offensively for the rest of the game, blanking each inning except for a midgame windfall in which they brought in all five of their runs in the top of the fourth to bring the score to 9-5. The Broncs then brought in a run in the bottom of the fourth and the fifth for a final 11-5 victory. “Defensively we were OK,” said Kehr about the Frenchtown loss. “But it was just one of those games where we weren’t selective enough at the plate, we swung the bat a little too freely, and we just didn’t hit the ball.”

Sydney Mann took the mound for six innings against the Broncs, surrendering 11 runs on nine hits, while walking five and striking out two.

Abbey Underdahl went 2 for 3 to lead the Kats in hits, while Abbie Darsow, Izzy Johnson and McKenna Rensel drove in the Kats’ five runs. Rensel and Haylee Lawrence hit doubles.

The Kats went into their final regular season game against Polson with a sense of nothing to lose, said Kehr, knowing that even a loss kept them in third to compete with other top-three conference teams at the 12-team state tournament.

It was their tightest game yet against the Pirates, with the Kats falling 6-5 compared to an earlier season 10-2 loss against the No. 1 northwestern seed. Slow to start, the Wildkats scored their first run in the top of the third followed by another in the fourth to bring the score to 6-2 at the bottom of the fifth. But the team battled to the end, scoring one in the sixth and two in the seventh to bring the final score to within a run.

Mann allowed six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three. She was relieved in the sixth by Maddie Moultray who allowed no runs on one hit, walked none and struck out two.

Abbey Underdahl went 2 for 2, Aspen Dawson went 2 for 3, and Alyssa Blankenship went 2 for 4 to lead the Kats in hits, with Dawson and Blankenship each batting in one run. Aletheia Fisher hit a double to bring in a run.

Columbia Falls competes against Park/ Livingston for their first matchup of the state tournament at 11 a.m. on Thursday in Butte.

The Wildkats ended the regular season at 11-11 overall and 4-4 in conference play.