Sunday, May 28, 2023

C-Falls, Libby head into (State A) unknown

Daily Inter Lake | May 24, 2023 11:55 PM

It used to be, the top three regular-season teams from four conferences populated the annual State A softball tournament.

This year divisionals were introduced, and Columbia Falls got the best of Polson, 11-7, in the championship Saturday in Frenchtown. Libby, which took fourth, is also heading to state in Belgrade.

The usual suspects, in other words — though Libby nearly pulled off a major upset before losing to the Wildkats 8-7 in the semifinals.

Columbia Falls coach Dave Kehr has no major complaints.

“It was good for us in that way,” Kehr said of the adversity. “We had a good showing.

“Our biggest thing now is, it’s going to be a really evenly matched state tournament.”

A lot of the teams have not seen each other; Lewistown, Havre and Billings Central have excellent records, and if Frenchtown and Polson didn’t look like world-beaters at divisionals, well, that was last week.

Kehr credits Maddie Moultray for getting his offense fired up against Libby, Syd Mann for her relief work and Haden Peters and Tayler Lingle for their defense. It was Lingle that chased down a foul ball hit toward right against Libby.

“She’s so damn fast,” Kehr said. “It was a big out at the time. Plays like that kept us going. The girls feel pretty good about pulling that one out.”

Peters is hitting .551 with eight homers and 51 RBIs; Moultray is at .541 with seven. Aspen Dawson is hitting .429 and has scored 50 runs.

First-year Libby head coach Brooke Soley is happy with her Loggers, who played well for three divisional games before wilting in Saturday’s consolation game against Frenchtown.

She’s also not too worried that she knows little about first-round foe Lewistown.

“I kind of like going into it not knowing,” Soley said this week. The implication is Libby went in blind in 2008, when Soley helped pitch the Loggers to the State A title. “Exactly,” she said.

This year’s team is built around its battery: Pitcher Mackenzie Foss and catcher Kynzee Boehmler.

“Kynzee has done a great job at the plate (.417) and behind the plate,” Soley said.

Paislee MacDonald, Aleesha Bradeen and Jossalyn White pepper a stout lineup. White moved to center field when Mylie Rayome was hurt, and has taken off.

“It has actually surprised me the way they’ve handled themselves and worked together,” said Soley, who was a Libby assistant for two seasons before taking over the program. “We’re in a good spot. Coming off a good weekend and the girls are confident.”

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