At Stodden Park in Butte, Montana
Champion 2019: Belgrade
Who’s back: Frenchtown, Polson, Laurel, Livingston, Columbia Falls, Lewistown
Who is new: Corvallis, Glendive, Libby, Billings Central, Havre, Butte Central
At the beginning: After three consecutive state championships, Belgrade is no longer part of the Class A competition, which means that a new team will be crowned champions for the first time since 2017. The Polson Pirates appear to be a strong candidate, as they in addition boast admirable team chemistry. to their record of 19-1-1. The Pirates were favored to win the 2020 State Championship, but were not given the chance to hit the pitch due to the pandemic. As the sitting champions of the Northwest Conference, the Pirates, led by senior star Josie Caye, could prove to be a tough game for any team in the tournament. The Pirates have a first-round pass and will face the winner of Corvallis and Dawson County on Thursday.
In the circle: The undefeated Laurel Locomotives are also a team to watch, as they enter the State Tournament after a 5-4 win over Livingston in the Southeast Division Championship game. Ella Crookston pitched a full game in the divisional championship and will be the one to watch on the mound in the state tournament. In addition to the Crookston pitch, the locomotives are equipped with powerful hitters, including Mia Andersen and Taylor Feller. But the champions of the Southwestern Conference, the Frenchtown Broncs, are not to be counted. Frenchtown coach Eli Field has guided his team to ten conference titles in 16 years as a coach. Hitting isn’t the Bronc’s only strength, as their shot is led by Sadie Smith and Kendra Jacobs. But the team’s greatest strength is the work ethic and preparation, according to Field.
Around the bases: Billings Central took last place in the Southeast State tournament with a victory over Hardin in the divisional tournament’s third-place game. Le Havre fell to Lewistown in the Northeast Division Championship, with both teams participating in the State Tournament. Glendive defeated Miles City in the third-place divisional game to secure his place in the tournament. Butte Central improved throughout the year as they lost to other Columbia Falls and Lewistown state tournament teams early in the season. But as the season wore on, Butte Central coach Chunky Thatcher saw his side as competitive as the state tournament approached. Libby also made the cut, representing the North West Division.
Weather and attendance: Cloudy skies and temperatures ranging from 50 to 60 degrees were forecast. Daily tournament passes are $ 8 ($ 6 for students) and tournament passes are $ 21 ($ 14 for students). Tournament programs and products will be sold during the tournament.