STATE A SOFTBALL: Broncs roll into third round
POLSON – With a dominating pitching performance by Shelby Russ and aggressive baserunning, the Frenchtown softball team swept its games on the first day of the State A softball tournament Thursday.
Russ turned in a complete-game shutout in leading the Broncs past the host team Polson, 5-0, in Round 2. That came on the heels of Frenchtown’s 10-3 win over Havre in its opener.
Joining the Broncs (20-4) in the third round are Belgrade (20-2), Billings Central and Butte Central. Teams dropping into the consolation bracket included Polson, Ronan, Libby, Corvallis, Havre, Columbia Falls, Livingston and Laurel.
Frenchtown coach Eli Field was impressed with the way his team played Thursday.
“Shelby threw one of the better games she has thrown in her career against Polson,” he said. “All the girls were aggressive on the bases right away in the Havre game and put the pressure on all day. We finally played the way we’ve been expecting to play all year.”
Friday’s loser-out games begin at 9 a.m. with Ronan facing Livingston and Polson playing Laurel. At 11 a.m., Libby will battle Columbia Falls and Corvallis will collide with Havre.
In the winners’ bracket third round at 1 p.m., Frenchtown takes on Belgrade and Billings Central will battle Butte Central.
Frenchtown 5, Polson 0
Russ (16-4) struck out eight and didn’t walk any in recording a complete-game shutout in the second-round matchup.
Frenchtown ignited for three runs in the first frame and two in the second. Stephanie Klucewich started the onslaught with an RBI single in the first and Shelby Jutila hit a two-run homer in the second.
SuSan Perez-Tenas hit a double for Polson.
Frenchtown 320 000 0 – 5 6 2
Polson 000 000 0 – 0 5 1
Shelby Russ and Kristy Kees. Charlee Jenson, Dakota Peterson (5) and Kayla Duford. W – Russ. L – Jenson.
FRENCHTOWN – Erin Maxted 0-4, Kees 1-2, Russ 1-3, Kayla Bordner 0-3, Stephanie Klucewich 1-2, Megan Farmer 2-3, Mariel Maxted 0-3, Keller Leishman 1-3, Shelby Jutila 1-2, Kelsey Indreland 0-1.
POLSON – Staci Benson 1-4, Sarah Newton 0-3, Riley Kenney 1-3, Rochelle Woods 1-3, Sallie Sams 0-3, Kayla Duford 0-2, Charlee Jensen 0-2, Peterson 1-1, Kylie Knutson 0-3, SuSan Perez-Tenas 1-3.
2B – Perez-Tenas, Russ, Kees. HR – Jutila. RBIs – Klucewich, Farmer, Jutila 2.
STATE A SOFTBALL: Broncs power into undefeated game
POLSON – The team with the best record heading into the State A softball tournament proved to be no match for Frenchtown Friday in a third-round matchup.
The Broncs (21-4) moved to within two wins of a state title with a 7-3 victory over Belgrade (21-3) at the Polson Softball Complex. Frenchtown will play Butte Central (13-7) Saturday at 9 a.m. in the undefeated game.
The winner of that contest advances to the championship game at 1 p.m.
Frenchtown coach Eli Field said the most important at-bat of Friday’s game came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Broncs senior Mariel Maxted drew a walk with runners on second and third, and ball four sailed over the catcher’s head, allowing the tying run to score.
Freshman Keller Leishman followed with a two-RBI single that gave her team a 6-3 lead.
Field was pleased with his team’s aggressiveness in piling up nine hits. He was also impressed with his pitcher, Shelby Russ, who moved to 17-4.
“She kept her composure really well,” Field said. “We’re down 3-1 and things weren’t going right. They had some balls that dropped in. But she kept us in the game and that’s what’s important.”
The other two teams still alive are Belgrade and Billings Central. They play in a loser-out game at 9.
Polson 4, Laurel 2
Senior Dakota Peterson struck out eight and walked just two in earning the pitching win for the Pirates in the loser-out game.
Laurel jumped to a lead in the second inning when catcher Jesse Engan’s base hit scored two. But Polson fought back to tie by scoring in the fourth and fifth, then pulled ahead with a pair in the sixth.
Sarah Newton and Kayla Duford each had RBI doubles for Polson. Sophomore Sallie Sams had an RBI single.
Polson 000 112 0 – 4 10 0
Laurel 020 000 0 – 2 5 0
Dakota Peterson and Kayla Duford. Keilah Ahmen and Jesse Engan. W – Peterson. L – Ahmen.
POLSON – Staci Benson 1-4, Sarah Newton 1-4, Riley Kenney 1-4, Rochelle Woods 1-4, Sallie Sams 1-3, Kayla Duford 1-3, Charlee Jenson 1-3, Dakota Peterson 2-3, SuSan Perez-Tenas 1-3.
LAUREL – Olivia Heidinger 0-4, Elizabeth McGee 0-3, Maddie Cebuhar 0-3, Sarah Parks 1-3, Katie Woods 1-3, Jesse Engan 1-3, Keilah Ahmen 1-3, Kaitlyn O’Rourke 0-3, Michelle Dahl 1-3, Haylee Gallegos 0-1.
2B – Newton, R. Woods, Duford. 3B – Parks. RBIs – Engan 2, Newton, Sams, Duford.
Ronan 1, Polson 0
The Maidens eliminated the Pirates (19-5) in the loser-out game with a run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Kelsey Clairmont doubled, moved over on a Kaylee Larson single and then scored on a Jordan Strozzi sacrifice fly. Prior to the 10th the Maidens managed just two singles off Polson pitcher Dakota Peterson, who finished with seven strikeouts.
Larson (16-5) picked up the pitching win for Ronan. She struck out five and did not allowed a free pass.
Polson held an 8-4 advantage in hits. Charleee Jenson went 3-for-4 for the Pirates.
Polson 000 000 000 0 – 0 8 0
Ronan 000 000 000 0 – 1 4 1
Dakota Peterson and Kayla Duford. Kaylee Larson and Jordan Strozzi. W – Larson. L – Peterson.
POLSON – Staci Benson 1-5, Sarah Newton 1-4, Riley Kenney 0-4, Rochelle Woods 0-4, Sallie Sams 1-4, Kayla Duford 1-4, Charlee Jenson 3-4, Dakota Peterson 1-4, SuSan Perez-Tenas 0-4.
RONAN – Kelsey Clairmont 0-5, Kaylee Larson 1-5, Jordan Strozzi 1-5, April Soukup 0-3, Katie Andrews 0-4, Lindsay Clairmont 1-4, Amanda Bartel 0-3, Brit Clairmont 0-3, Dani Crocket 0-3.
2B – K. Clairmont. RBIs – Strozzi.
STATE A SOFTBALL: Broncs handle Maroons: Russ leads Frenchtown to State A championship
POLSON – The Frenchtown Broncs were tired of the second-place trophy.
They went out and did something about that on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Shelby Russ struck out 12 batters and belted a home run in the Broncs’ 6-2 win over Butte Central, giving Frenchtown the State A softball championship. It’s the second title for the Broncs at the Class A level – the last came in 2005, also in Polson – and the school’s sixth overall after winning four at the Class B-C level.
Frenchtown was the runner-up to Libby last year and Polson the year before.
“All these girls were there for that and saw those seniors deal with that,” Frenchtown coach Eli Field said as the team gathered for a celebratory dinner Saturday evening in Polson. “It’s pretty sweet for us to get over the top and get that second place thing off our backs.”
The Broncs reached the title game by downing the Maroons 4-0 in the undefeated game Saturday morning.
Belgrade beat Billings Central 8-1 in the loser-takes-fourth game. Butte Central rebounded to oust Belgrade 7-6 in the loser-takes-third game to earn its way back to the championship.
“Polson’s always good to us,” Field said. “Our girls play well up here; it’s a great atmosphere. Our team stepped up and played the best they had all year.”
Frenchtown 6, Butte Central 2
The Broncs broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the fourth with only one ball leaving the infield.
Megan Farmer walked and scored on a squeeze bunt by pinch-hitter Kelsey Indreland. Two batters later, Indreland made it 3-1 by scoring when Erin Maxted reached on a fielder’s choice.
“The kids made plays, all sorts of kids,” Field said. “A kid we brought off the bench – Kelsey Indreland – had a perfect sacrifice bunt that got us two runs in the Belgrade game, then today she had a squeeze bunt to break 1-1 tie. We asked her to do a job and she did it. Everybody did little things like that.”
Russ belted a home run off a tiring McKenzie Doherty in the fifth inning to make it 4-1.
“There isn’t much you can say because everyone knows about her,” Field said of Russ, the Broncs’ career home run leader. “We’ll miss her, I tell you that.”
The Broncs added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on back-to-back RBI singles by Kayla Bordner and Stephanie Klucewich.
The Maroons (14-9) didn’t go quietly in the seventh. Breanne Krzan drew a walk, took second on an Angela Piazzola groundout and scored on a single by Brooke Pokorny.
But Russ got Saidee Johnston to hit into a fielder’s choice before ending the game by getting Amber Orizotti with her 12th strikeout.
“She was amazing this weekend,” Field said of Russ. “There were probably even things people didn’t notice. Her location was amazing; she did not miss many spots this weekend. She was focused and in the zone.”
Before the tournament began, Field said defense would be key for the Broncs.
“At one point in fifth inning, I turned to my assistant coach Tony Davis and said, ‘When did we start doing things like that?’ ” Field said. “We looked at each other and shook our heads. We made some really amazing plays, in my mind.”
The Broncs ended the season at 23-4 overall.