State AA softball opens with thrillers, blowout

State AA softball opens with thrillers, blowout
Billings Senior's Kennedy Venner delivers a pitch during a one-hit performance Friday against Kalispell Glacier at Stodden Park. (Bill Foley photo)

Billings Senior, Helena Capital, Great Falls High and Billings West picked up first-round wins Thursday as the Class AA State tournament opened at Stodden Park.

Senior downed Kalispell Glacier 6-0, Capital knocked off Billings Skyview 5-3 in a 10-inning thriller, defending champion Great Falls dumped Helena High 11-1, and West outslugged Missoula Sentinel 12-10.

Because of wet weather in the forecast, all of Friday’s games have been moved up one hour.

At 9 a.m., Senior will take on Capital and Great Falls will battle West. In 11 a.m.- loser-out action, Glacier battles Skyview and Helena takes on Sentinel.

Click here to follow the tournament bracket.

Billings Senior 6, Kalispell Glacier 0
Freshman Kennedy Venner pitched a one-hit shutout and her older sister, Cassidy, stroked a home run as the East’s fourth seed, Billings Senior, blanked Glacier, the top seed from Western AA.

The win sent Senior to Friday’s 9 a.m. quarterfinal-round game against Helena Capital.

The Broncs took the lead with two runs in the third inning on a run-scoring single by Lauren Gordon and an RBI double by Jensen Keller. Laurel Kilgore drove in two runs with a double in the sixth inning. Cassidy Venner led off the seventh with a solo blast over the left-field fence, then Kara Conway belted a ground-rule double, advanced to third base on a groundout and scored on a comebacker by Kennedy Venner.

Venner struck out eight batters and walked four. The only hit she allowed was a leadoff single by No. 9 hitter Addie Labrum in the fifth inning. She was stranded by a flyout, strikeout and groundout as Venner set down the next three batters.

Glacier will play an 11 a.m. game on Friday against Billings Skyview in the elimination round.

— Bruce Sayler

Billings Senior           002      002      2 — 6  10   2
Kalispell Glacier       000      000      0 — 0    1   3

Kennedy Venner and Lauren Gordon. Kynzie Mohl, Sage Vanterpool (3) and Halle Schroeder. W — K. Venner (1-0). L — Mohl (0-1).
BILLINGS SENIOR — Laurel Kilgore 2-4, Lauren Gordon 1-3, Jensen Keller 1-3, Dacee Zent 1-3,  Alexis Smith 0-0, Cassidy Venner 1-4, Kara Conway 1-3, Jaida Ontiveros 2-4, Kennedy Venner 1-4, Allison Nyquist 0-4.
KALISPELL GLACIER — Sammie Labrum 0-3, Halle Schroeder 0-2, Kynzie Mohl 0-3, Allee Meyer 0-3, Sage Vanterpool 0-1, Kenna Vanorny 0-0, Sophie Smith 0-3, Kira Barney 0-0, Megan Eckert 0-3, Jennifer Wallace 0-1, Emma Anderson 0-1, Addie Labrum 1-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Keller, Ontiveros, K. Venner, Kilgore, Conway. HR — C. Venner.
Runs batted in — Senior 6 (Kilgore 2, Gordon 1, Keller 1, C. Venner 1, K. Venner 1), Glacier 0.

Helena Capital 5, Billings Skyview 3 (10 innings)

Ally McMillan and Jenna Priddy provided the clutch hits as the Bruins came from behind to victory.

McMillan blasted a two-run home run to cap a three-run run Capital rally in the top of seventh inning to send the game to extra frames. The no-doubt blast over the fence in left field scored Sarah Bury, who reached on an RBI fielder’s choice that scored Nicole Ames.

Ames led off the inning with a single.

Bury just beat out the throw to first on a bang-bang play that was nearly a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. Skyview’s coaches argued the call.

Priddy hit a one-out double to score Madison Davis and Riley Ames. Davis walked, while Ames singled.

Nicole Ames struck out the side and stranded a runner in the bottom of the 10th to secure the complete-game victory.

The game looked to have belonged to the Falcons all the way.

Speedy leadoff hitter Ashynne Coping bunted her way on and scored when Kaylee Kannegiesser reached on an error for a first-inning lead.

The Falcons added runs in the fifth and sixth when Kanneegiesser hit an RBI single and Copinga drew a bases-loaded walk.

Skyview pitcher Shea Early was dealing, too. She was perfect through the first three innings and didn’t give up a hit until Bury hit a one-out single in the fifth.

Missed opportunities, though, hurt the Falcons, who stranded two runners in the first and three in the sixth. In all, Skyview left nine runners on base.

— Bill Foley

Helena Capital                       000      000      300      2 — 5   7   3
Billings Skyview                    100      011      000      0 — 3   8   1

Nicole Ames and Lauren Archie; Shea Earley and Olivia Ruff. W — Ames. L — Earley.
HELENA CAPITAL — Jenna Priddy 2-4, Mashayla O’Malley 0-4, N. Ames 1-4, Archie 1-4, McKenna Moore 0-0, Kendall Isaacson 0-4, Sarah Bury 1-4, Ally McMillan 1-3, Madison Davis 0-4, Riley Ames 1-4, Morgan Lowry 0-0.
BILLINGS SKYVIEW — Ashlynne Copinga 1-4, Natalie Beck 1-4, Kaylee Kannegiesser 1-4, Easley 1-4, Hannah Hoffarth 1-3, Jessie Ellis 2-5, Raegan Harper 1-5, Allya Morrow 0-4, Klaire Morris 0-4, Katy Story 0-0, Ruff 0-0.
HR — McMillan. 2B — Priddy; Ellis. RBIs — Priddy 2, McMillan, Bury; Copinga; Kannegiesser.

Great Falls High 11, Helena High 1

Defending champion Great Falls High ended the game in the fifth inning on the 10-run difference rule when pinch hitter Stephanie Jablonski led off with a home run on an 0-1 pitch.

The Bison ripped three home runs in a seven-run first inning to dominate from start to finish and back Anna Toon’s nine-strikeout two-hitter. The junior hurler walked only one batter.

Morgan Sunchild drove in Great Falls’ first run with a no-out single, the third straight hit for the Bison in their first at-bats. Rachel Porter followed with a three-run homer. Two outs later, Madylynn Ray drove a solo home run over the center-field fence. After a walk, Skylar Anthony clubbed Great Falls’ third home run of the inning.

The Bison added a run in the third on a hit batter, bunt single and a throwing error. A Porter single drove in one run in the fifth and another scored on a Helena error. The Bison led 10-1 and used a double play to quiet the Bengals in the top of the fifth. Jablonski was then summoned from the bench and delivered her game-ender.

Helena’s hits were a solo home run to center field by Mariah English in the second inning and a base hit to center by Amber Countryman in the fourth.

Great Falls will play Billings West in a Friday 9 a.m. quarterfinal-round game, and Helena High faces a loser-out against Missoula Sentinel at 11 a.m.

— Bruce Sayler

Helena High               010      00x      x —  1     2   2
Great Falls High       701      21x     x — 11  12   0

None out when winning run scored in the bottom of the fifth.
Mariah English and Kali Anderson. Anna Toon and Rachel Porter. W — Toon (1-0). L — English (0-1).
HELENA HIGH — Kali Anderson 0-2, Nicole Price 0-2, Amber Countryman 1-2, Vanessa Walsh 0-2, Rheyse Struble 0-0, Casey Holland 0-2, Mariah English 1-2, Riley Thennis 0-1, Reegan Walsh 0-2, Brooke Ark 0-1.
GREAT FALLS HIGH — Sarah Conway 2-3, Anna Toon 1-3, Morgan Sunchild 2-3, Rachel Porter 2-3, Maggie Bell 0-0, Ryen Palmer 0-3, Shea LaRocque 0-3, Gracie Lins 0-0, Madylynn Ray 2-2, Kylee Stoll 1-2, Skylar Anthony 1-2, Stephanie Jablonski 1-1.
Extra-base hits — HR — English, Porter, Ray, Anthony, Jablonski.
Runs batted in — Helena 1 (English), Great Falls 9 (Porter 4, Anthony 2, Sunchild 1, Ray 1, Jablonski 1).

Billings West 12, Missoula Sentinel 10
Billings West economically scored six runs on six hits over the last two innings to survive a pair of grand slams unloaded by Missoula Sentinel to post the win.

Freshman catcher Cassidy Schweitzer blasted the bombs — one over center field, one over left — for Sentinel as she brought her team back from a 6-1 deficit to 6-5, and an 11-6 margin to within 11-10. However, the Golden Bears were able to hold them off and used a one-two-three seventh inning to initiate the sigh of relief for the West team and its fans.

The Golden Bears tallied five times in the fifth inning, enough to keep their lead, and Lauren Blaschak singled home Emma Balsam in the top of the fifth for what proved to be the winning run. An insurance run was added in the sixth when Deven Creech doubled, stole third and came home on a sacrifice fly by Halle Spring. Winning pitcher Kinzee Koch struck out 13 batters.

The win by Billings West, the third seed from the East, earned it a 9 a.m. Friday quarterfinal-round game against defending champion Great Falls High. Sentinel will play Helena High in an 11 a.m. loser-out game.

— Bruce Sayler

Billings West              004      251      0 — 12  10  2
Msla. Sentinel            000      550      0 — 10  10  0
Kinzee Koch and McKinsey Matthews. Shelby Dunwell and Cassidy Schweitzer. W — Koch (1-0). L — Dunwell.
— Lauren Blaschak 3-5, Morgan Stoppel 0-4, Kinzee Koch 1-3, Shea Dolan 0-0, Deven Creech 1-4, Hallee Spring 1-4, McKinsey Matthews 0-3, Chloe Nelson 1-3, Sydney Nelson 2-4, Emma Balsam 1-4.
MISSOULA SENTINEL — MacKenzie Wright 0-4, Keena Kay 0-3, MacKenzie Moore 0-1, Shelby Dunwell 2-4, Addy Gaub 2-3, Jalen Cooper 1-4, Katy Yakawich 0-0, Amy Taylor 0-4, Morgan Holmes 1-3, Cassidy Schweitzer 2-4, Kodi Fraser 2-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Blaschak 2, C. Nelson, Creech.
HR — Koch, x-Schweitzer 2 (x-gs, x-gs).
Runs batted in — West (Blaschak 4, Koch 3, C. Nelson 2, Balsam 2, S. Nelson 1), Sentinel 10 (Schweitzer 8, Holmes 2).

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