Monday, April 15, 2024

Champion Wolfpack reload for 2024

Daily Inter Lake | March 31, 2024 12:00 AM

The last time we saw the Glacier Wolfpack softball team, they were celebrating the program’s second-ever State AA championship in Helena.

A third one is certainly within reach.

It’s an impressive list of returnees back from a 20-3 team, starting with Montana’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, pitcher Ella Farrell.

All she did was go 12-2 in the circle while hitting .486 with seven homers and 42 runs batted in — and he was just one of five Glacier players that hit .400 last year.

Senior second baseman Kenedie Goudette (.462, six homers, 39 runs scored), junior catcher Cazz Rankosky (427, 34 runs scored), senior outfielder Emma Cooke (.423, 30 runs scores) and junior shortstop Nakiah Persinger (.413, 31 runs scored) are back as well.

“Obviously we have big expectations, but more than that we’re excited to work with all our seniors,” coach Abby Snipes said. “I think we’re going to be very balanced, which will allow some to have off days. I’m just really excited to see us compete.”

Five seniors have signed letters of intent to play college softball: Farrell is headed to College of Southern Idaho, Goudette inked with Columbia Basin; first baseman Zoey Allen (.293, five homers) is going to College of Idaho; and outfielders Bella Hodous and Cooke are headed to Spokane Falls Community College. 

Meanwhile Rankosky has already committed to Montana State-Billings.

Cooke, Farrell and Goudette were All-State last  year, while Rankosky and Persinger were all-Western AA. 

Senior third baseman Paishance Haller hit .292 last year; she’s hit .329 in her varsity career.

Two standout seniors graduated in center fielder Brooklyn Imperato and pitcher Morgan Vivian. It figured that Olivia Gibbons would step into the No. 2 pitcher’s role, but she was unfortunately injured during flag football. Now Snipes has Persinger penciled in to share the circle — she and Farrell could simply switch places, pitcher to short — while freshman Olivia Warriner is a promising hurler.

Then there’s Farrell, who fanned 124 in 106 innings last spring, with a 2.30 earned-run average. Then she committed herself to an even better senior campaign.

“Ella’s had a great offseason,” Snipes said. “Once she signed with her school she really committed to weight lifting. She’s stronger this year and we’re just really excited to see her out on the diamond.”

Sophomore Karley Allen, Zoey’s sister who can fill in at the corner infield sports, and juniors Khristen Terrell (outfield) and Kaydee Walcheck (utility) fill out the squad.

Their season kicks off Thursday with a home game against Missoula Hellgate.  The state tournament is in Belgrade, and it’s hard to imagine Glacier being anywhere else on May 23-25, but Snipes wants her team to enjoy the journey.

“These girls love to play together; they’re very close-knit,” she said. “The state tournament isn’t until may. We have all those opportunities to grow and learn from experiences, too.”