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Lady Hawks fourth at softball divisionals

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | May 24, 2023 12:00 AM

Thompson Falls finished fourth in the Western Divisional tourney last week and advanced to the state tournament this coming weekend, back in Anaconda.

The Lady Hawks will meet Shepherd, the No. 1 seed from the East division in round one at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The winner of that game will face the winner of the Mission/Arlee/Charlo (MAC) game in a second round game Friday at 10 a.m.

The Lady Hawks opened the divisional tournament Thursday with an 8-5 win over the tough Lady Mustangs from Ennis, sending them into an encounter later that day with Florence-Carlon.

The Lady Falcons, one of the favorites to win the tournament along with MAC, turned back T-Falls 13-2.

That loss dropped the Lady Hawks into the consolation bracket where they faced the Three Forks Wolves. Thompson Falls beat the Lady Wolves 8-6 to keep their tournament hopes alive, and later that day they ran into a solid Manhattan team falling 19-12.

Against Ennis in the tournament opener, the Lady Hawks battled the Lady Mustangs to a scoreless tie after two innings of play.

Thompson Falls broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the third inning when they scored three runs. Junior McKenzie Robinson got things going in the third when she singled, stole second and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice. Robinson scored on a wild pitch a batter later.

T Falls infielder Teagan Saner then singled and moved to third on a double by senior Liv McCormick. Both runners came around to score on a two RBI single by Cheyla Irvine, giving the Hawks a 3-0 lead.

The Hawks scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Several Ennis errors and a double by Saner brought home the Hawks fifth run after sophomore Sarah Koskela had scored from third on a passed ball. McCormick drove in Saner with a single to make it 6-0 Thompson Falls at the end of four innings of play.

Thompson Falls tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth to up their lead to 7-0.

Ennis then rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth inning, cutting the Hawks lead to 7-4. T Falls answered with a solo run in the bottom of the sixth, then shut down a mild Ennis rally in the top of the seventh to seal the tournament opening 8-5 win.

Thompson out hit the Lady ‘Stangs 11-6 for the game, with Saner’s 3-4 day at the plate leading the way. Oliva Fitchett was the winning pitcher, striking out eight Ennis batters and holding them to three earned runs on five hits.

Friday morning T Falls faced Florence-Carlton in the winner’s bracket but fell behind quickly to the hard-hitting Lady Falcons.

FC scored twice in the bottom of the fifth, then erupted for five more runs in the bottom of the second to take a 7-0 early lead. Thompson Falls answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third when Robinson singled and advanced to third, then scored on a wild pitch. Saner, who slapped a single to center earlier in the inning, also scored on a wild pitch to cut the Falcons lead to 7-2.

Thompson did not score in the top of the fourth. However, Florence-Carlton pushed across six runs in the bottom of the fourth to build a 13-2 lead, which was the final score of the game after the Mercy rule was put in effect after T Falls failed to score in the top of the fifth.

The Lady Falcons had 14 hits for the game to four for the Lady Hawks. Falcons pitcher R. Yeoman had six RBIs to lead her team and was two for four at the plate, including a home run and triple.

The loss sent the Hawks into a consolation game against Three Forks later Friday, where they gave up two first inning runs as the Wolves took the lead, then added a single run in the second.

Thompson answered those runs in the top of the third with a trio of tallies to tie the game. After a scoreless fourth inning, Three Forks took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when they tacked on three runs of their own to reclaim the advantage, 6-3.

But Thompson fought back in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs on a single, double and two RBI triple off the bat of Saner, who scored a short time later on an error by the Three Forks catcher.

McCormick singled for the Hawks, then moved to third via a pair of wild pitches but was stranded there as the inning came to an end with T Falls ahead 7-6. Koskela scored in the top of the seventh after singling and advancing to third on Three Forks’ errors, then coming across home on yet another error charged to the Wolves. Saner had a pair of RBIs for the Lady Hawks, while both Koskela and McCormick had two hits in four at bats.

The win kept the Lady Hawks hopes alive and sent them into a game versus Manhattan. The Lady Tigers jumped on T Falls for four runs in the top of the first, only to watch as T Falls scored a pair in the bottom of the inning, making it 4-2 Manhattan. The Lady Tigers added two more runs in the top of the second, then five runs in their half of the third inning to build a 9-2 lead.

Manhattan extended the lead to 16-2 when they erupted for seven runs in the top of the fourth.

However, the Lady Hawks, facing a shortened game via the Mercy rule, put up five runs in each of the next two innings while surrendering a solo run to the Lady Tigers in the top of the fifth.

Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh innings and Manhattan stayed alive with the 19-12, hard-fought win.

The Lady Tigers piled up 23 hits during the game, while Thompson Falls had 18 of its own. Koskela was a perfect 4-4 at the plate with two RBIs, while McCormick batted in three runs for the Lady Hawks. R Gault of Manhattan had five total bases for the Lady Tigers, including a home run and four RBIs.