Rosters for the 8th Annual Veterans Memorial Softball Classic have been released and four local players will participate in the two-day tournament.
Belgrade’s Tycelee Bowler, Kenna Thomas and Maddie Tomasetti, along with Manhattan’s Adele Didriksen, are among the competitors. Bowler is a first-time participant after earning All-State honors this past season.
“This year the RSVP’s came in much faster than they ever have in the past,” said tournament organizer James Matter Jr. “I know I’ve said that in past years too, but it just keeps gaining traction and we’re really excited to just see where it’s gone and be able to do this.”
The two-day event, which will be held at the Belgrade Softball Complex Aug. 6-7, features five teams named after each branch of the military and honors Montana veterans. More than 60 players, who earned either All-State or all-conference honors, have been invited to participate.
After the tournament was nearly canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, Matter Jr. noted the planning process was a lot less stressful this year.
“It’s been nice to be able to have worked on this throughout the spring and know that it was going to happen,” he said. “Unlike last year, we were still unsure at this point last year if it was even going to happen. So going into this year knowing that we were pretty much the only all-state event to happen last year, and we won’t have an asterisk next to this eighth annual because we missed one, we’re pretty excited to keep this going.”
A record number of players (65) will participate this year, including Billings Senior’s Kennedy Venner and Great Falls’ Morgan Sunchild. The duo were selected as the Eastern AA’s Player of the Year and Offensive player of the Year, respectively.
Didriksen, Thomas and Tomasetti are each returning players, but only Didriksen earned All-State honors this past season. Despite helping Belgrade win the state championship in the program’s first season as a AA program, Thomas and Tomasetti were only honorable mention and first team selections, respectively.
“It was kind of disappointing to see the results of that Eastern AA all-state list, but you can’t argue that the Eastern AA wasn’t absolutely stacked with talent,” said Matter Jr. “I knew it was going to be tough for the Belgrade athletes to get on to that list this year, and just glad to be able to get Kenna and Maddie on the list and give the coaches the opportunity to select from that alternates list.”
Matter Jr. created a list of 10 alternates for coaches with three slots available. Thomas and Tomasetti were selected along with Stillwater’s Makayla Harper.
“We wanted to put all the coaches on an even playing field, so that’s why we opened it up to three additional players,” said Matter Jr.
The tournament will consist of 10 games, a home run contest, pop-to-pop contest and base running contest. While there are no changes to the structure from years past, Matter Jr. is planning to implement a run-rule.
“I haven’t really decided what the run-rule’s going to look like, but we want to make sure of course that these athletes coming out get all the playing time they can,” he said. “But at the same time we want to keep it fun. The girls get tired on that Saturday afternoon and sometimes those games get out of control and we don’t want it to turn into a slugfest and we don’t want it to be demeaning in anyway. We want to keep it fun.”
The five Montana veterans will be memorialized during the opening ceremonies Friday. Among them is Laverne Parrish, a medal of honor recipient who served as a medic in the Army.
“He’s a big one of course,” said Matter Jr. “We definitely want to get those medal of honor recipients memorialized.”
The other four are Dean Coleman (Navy), Dean Pogreba (Air Force), Michael Kirkpatrick (Cost Guard), and Louis Charlo (Marines). Matter Jr. noted the Charlo was part of the first group of Marines that crested Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima with the first American flag during World War II.
“So that’s a really special story,” he said.
8th Annual Veterans Memorial Softball Classic
(at Belgrade Softball Complex, Aug. 6-7)
Game 1 - Air Force vs. Marines, 1:30 p.m.
Game 2 - Navy vs. Army, 1:30 p.m.
Game 3 - Winner 1 vs. Coast Guard, 3:30 p.m.
Game 4 - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2, 3:30 p.m.
Dinner, 5:30 p.m.
Opening Ceremony, 6 p.m.
Home Run Derby, 7 p.m.
Game 5 - Winner 4 vs. Loser 3, 8 a.m.
Game 6 - Loser 4 vs. Loser 5, 10 a.m.
Game 7 - Winner 2 vs. Winner3, 10 a.m.
Pop-to-Pop/Base Running Contests, 11:30 a.m.
Game 8 - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6, 12:30 p.m.
Game 9 - Loser 7 vs. Winner 8, 2:30 p.m.
Session Break, 4-5:30 p.m
Game 10 - Winner 7 vs. Winner 9, 5:30 p.m.
Game 11 - If necessary, 7 p.m.
LAVERNE PARRISH ARMY TEAM
#1 - Mia Anderson, Laurel
#2 - Brynn Notbohm, Miles City
#3 - Mackenzie Wright, Missoula Sentinel
#4 - Ella Farrell, Glacier
#5 - Camden Susott, Huntley Project
#6 - Kassidy Yeoman, Florence-Carlton
#7 - Brooke Richardson, Helena
#8 - Brooke Badovinac, Butte Central
#9 - Michael Shea, Eureka
#10 - Kynzie Mohl, Glacier
#11 - Alyssa Blankenship, Columbia Falls
#12 - Makayla Harper, Stillwater
#15 - Davyn Myrick, Glasgow
Head coach: Mike Pyette, Cut Bank
Assistant coaches: Cody Fetters & Emma Pyette
DEAN COLEMAN NAVY TEAM
#1 - Sadie Smith, Frenchtown
#2 - Samantha Lovenguth, Havre
#3 - Tycelee Bowler, Belgrade
#4 - Kooper Page, MAC
#5 - Mckenna Hanson, Polson
#6 - Marissa Taylor, Park
#8 - Shelby Miotke, Frenchtown
#9 - Aubrey Allison, Shepherd
#10 - Payton Mallet, Ennis
#7 - Grace Hardy, Missoula Sentinel
#11 - Dacee Zent, Billings Senior
#12 - Jacao Jackson, Ronan
#13 - Maddie Tomasetti, Belgrade
Head coach: Abby Connolly, Glacier
Assistant coach: Greg Adkins
LOUIS CHARLO MARINES TEAM
#1 - Katlyne Druyvestein, Polson
#2 - Ellie Koerber, Billings Central
#3 - Cassidy Bagnell, Frenchtown
#4 - Kobbey Smith, Polson
#5 - Makenna Burke, Cut Bank
#6 - Hollis Baker, Billings Senior
#7 - Quinn McDonald, Havre
#8 - Kenadie Goudette, Glacier
#9 - Reed Johnson, Stillwater
#9 - Aubrey Nedens, Hardin
#10 - Adele Didriksen, Manhattan
#11 - Kodi Fraser, Missoula Sentinel
#15 - Tayler Feller, Laurel
Head coach: Tyson Anderson, Conrad/Chtoeau
Assistant coaches: Tim Bastian & Mick Morris
DEAN POGREBA AIR FORCE TEAM
#1 - Katie Schmidt, Eureka
#2 - Amber Countryman, Helena
#3 - Camille Bradley, Cut Bank
#4 - Ella Crookston, Laurel
#5 - Ryen Palmer, Great Falls
#6 - Kolbi Wood, Florence-Carlton
#7 - Lauren Blaschak, Billings West
#8 - Skylar Higgs, Park
#9 - Avery Carlson, Havre
#10 - Taylor Munro, Libby
#11 - Liev Smith, MAC
#15 - Kara Conway, Billings Senior
#16 - Kylie Kovatch, Florence-Carlton
Head caoch: Frank DiFonzo, Sidney
Assistant coaches: Chris Lee & Jesse Nesper
MICHAEL KIRKPATRICK COAST GUARD TEAM
#1 - Lexi Haney, Havre
#2 - Haley Wolsky, Missoula Sentinel
#3 - Jerny Crawford, MAC
#4 - Samantha Knapp, Corvallis
#5 - Lexie Stahlman, Laurel
#6 - Sammie Labrum, Glacier
#7 - Macee Greenwood, Corvallis
#8 - Haileigh Davis, Shepherd
#9 - Lexy Orien, Polson
#10 - Kennedy Venner, Billings Senior
#11 - Morgan Sunchild, Great Falls
#12 - Kenna Thomas, Belgrade
#15 - Maggie Bender, Conrad-Choteau
Head coach: Andrea Schurg, Dillon
Assistant coaches: Dennis Schurg & Alyssa Creighton