It was an agonizing spring for Ellie Milesnick, who like every other high school senior across the country had to come to terms that there would be no softball season.
The Montana High School Association cancelled all spring sports due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and Milesnick was one of two seniors on the Belgrade softball team — the other was Hazel Eaton — whose prep career abruptly ended.
But, but both got another opportunity over the weekend during the 7th Annual Veterans Memorial Softball Classic, and Milesnick savored the final chance to play at the Belgrade Softball Complex.
“It’s a good send off,” she said. “It’s the last send off and I feel pretty comfortable with it.”
In addition to featuring nearly 60 of the state’s top players, the tournament’s five teams are named in honor of Montana veterans. That’s something near to Milesnick’s heart.
“My great grandpa was a veteran, so it’s really cool just being able to represent him in the last game out on this field. And just being able to meet new people and have new experiences with people, it’s been great,” she said. “It’s been fun playing against Hazel, she’s a good one.”
Milesnick competed for the Air Force, while Eaton was a member of the Coast Guard. The Air Force finished 1-3 with the its lone victory against the Coast Guard.
Milesnick, a catcher, batted in the lead off position in three of the contests and finished 8 for 10 with three doubles and a home run on the weekend. The homer, a two-run shot to center, came in the team’s 10-3 victory against the Coast Guard.
“There’s no other feeling like it. I got up there and I wasn’t even thinking I was going to hit one,” Milesnick said. “I just watched it over the fence, and again, being able to represent the Milesnick name really just made that home run feel a lot better.”
It’s a feeling that Milesnick almost didn’t get to experience as the event was in doubt in the weeks leading up to the tournament. But the Gallatin County Health Department gave approval on July 21 to proceed.
“The people who put this on went through a lot of loopholes just to get this tournament to happen. They were just emailing us consistently with updates on what’s happening,” said Milesnick. “There was conflict at first and then it pulled through, and I was happy to hear that it was finally going on.”