Belgrade’s softball team saved their best for last Saturday night to cap the Frenchtown Invitational.
Erin Elgas tossed a 1-hitter in the circle and struck out 12, while the offense belted four home runs, as the Panthers routed Frenchtown 10-0 in the tournament finale.
Belgrade (11-0), which also beat defending state Class B/C champion Florence-Carlton 18-7 earlier in the day, finished 4-0 on the weekend en route to extending its winning streak to 30.
“You can always count on Erin to be really tough in the circle,” first-year Panthers coach Andrea Folkman said. “She showed up, the girls brought their bats, and everything clicked.”
Olivia Cook and Maddisen Tomasetti each hit solo home runs in the top of the second to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead, and then Haylee Curry added another solo shot in the third.
“She’s (Cook) had a couple home runs already this season, but for some reason that one against Frenchtown was what really set everyone on a rally there,” said Folkman. “When Maddi hit her home run the girls kind of woke up.”
Belgrade put the game away with a seven-run fifth inning, which was highlighted by a two-run homer from Lanie Morgan. It was the 10th home run of the tournament for the team, which hit a state record 53 a year ago.
“I told the girls after the game I was speechless,” said Folkman. “Because they got down every single bunt that we asked them to, Erin had 12 strike outs, we had four home runs, and we had people getting on base. We did all the little things that we’ve been talking about all season.”
Tomasetti also homered against Florence-Carlton as the Panthers tallied 17 hits, including three doubles. The sophomore, along with Madi Kreiger, finished 3 for 3 at the plate.
Belgrade began the tournament with an 18-2 victory against Corvallis Friday, and then rallied from an early deficit to beat Polson 5-4. Kreiger put the Panthers over the top against the Pirates with a two-run homer during a 3-run fifth inning.
“Once she connects, that ball flies,” Folkman said. “… It’s just a matter of her stepping in, taking a deep breath and doing what she does best.”
Elgas pitched all four innings against Corvallis, a game that was cut short due to the mercy rule. Hazel Eaton started in the circle against Polson and retired just two batters. She gave up four runs on two hits, two hit batters and a walk.
So Folkman again turned to Elgas, who limited the damage. She closed out the game without allowing a run and struck out 11. Folkman complimented Eaton, but the way the Pirates hit the ball made it necessary to change pitchers.
“It gives the team a big boost,” Folkman said of Elgas coming on in relief. “They know that Erin is going to get on the mound, and she’s going to work. She’s going to do her thing. She settles in, and she throws strikes. … She’s very dominant in that way.”
The Panthers scored a run in the second and another in the third to cut the deficit in half. In the fifth, Kamie Gorrell reached first on a bunt and scored on a double from Kenna Thomas, who racked up nine RBIs on the day. Then came Kreiger’s game-winning homer.
Belgrade returns to action Friday hosting Huntley Project, and then will play its final home game of the season Saturday against Fergus County.
— Paul Schwedelson, of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, contributed to this story.
Belgrade 18, Corvallis 2
Corvallis 002 0 - 2 4 1
Belgrade 064 8 - 18 15 0
Gabby Krueger, Macee Greenwood (3), Maria (4) and Sami. Erin Elgas and Haylee Curry. W - Elgas (6-0). L - Krueger.
CORVALLIS (4-6) - Ashlynn Nixon 1-2 (3B), Greenwood 1-2 (HR), Sami 1-2, Maria 0-2, Ciera Jessop 1-2, Daphney 0-2, Megan 0-2, Krueger 0-1, Kate 0-1, Olivia Powell 0-0.
BELGRADE (8-0) - Kamie Gorrell 0-1, Kenna Thomas 3-4 (2B, HR), Madi Kreiger 3-4 (HR), Olivia Cook 1-3 (2B), Maddisen Tomasetti 1-4 (2B), Lanie Morgan 3-3 (2 2B), Hazel Eaton 2-2, Ellie Milesnick 1-2 (2B), Curry 1-1.
Belgrade 5, Polson 4
Belgrade 011 030 0 - 5 10 0
Polson 400 000 0 - 4 7 1
Hazel Eaton, Erin Elgas (1) and Ellie Milesnick. L. Vergoerout, K. Drayestein (5) and K. Desharlais. W - Elgas (7-0). L - Vergoerout.
BELGRADE (9-0) - Kamie Gorrell 2-4, Kenna Thomas 3-4 (2B), Madi Kreiger 2-3 (HR), Olivia Cook 1-3 (HR), Maddisen Tomasetti 0-2, Lanie Morgan 0-3, Elgas 2-3 (3B, HR), Ellie Milesnick 0-3, Haylee Curry 0-3.
POLSON (5-3) - Desharlais 0-3, J. Caye 1-2, P. Noyes 3-4 (2B), L. Orien 1-3, S. Carpentier 0-4, Vergoerout 1-2 (HR), Drayvestein 0-1, K. Smith 0-2, L. Costilla 0-3, K. Finkbeiner 1-3 (2B), S. Brown 0-0.
Belgrade 18, Florence 7
Florence 00 1 42 - 7 14 6
Belgrade 14(10) 3x - 18 17 2
Kylie Kovatch and Natalie Dulac. Kaleigh Bauerle and Ellie Milesnick.
W - Bauerle (3-0). L - Kovatch.
FLORENCE-CARLTON - Kassidy Yeoman 2-4 (2 2B), Kolbi Wood 2-4 (2B), Dulac 2-3, Danielle Zahn 1-3, Kovatch 1-3 (2B), Jayden Hendrikson 0-1, Rilee Mangun 1-3, Danara Greer 2-2, Emily Kinnaman 1-2, Sarah Craun 1-1.
BELGRADE (10-0) - Kenna Thomas 1-1, Tyclee Bowler 1-1 (2B), Kamie Gorrell 0-1, Haylee Curry 0-1, Madi Kreiger 3-3, Shaylis Osler 0-1, Olivia Cook 0-3, Arin Eaton 1-1, Lanie Morgan 2-2 (2B), Talyn Campbell 0-1, Maddisen Tomasetti 3-3 (HR), Hazel Eaton 2-3 (2B), Milesnick 2-3, Sheridan Smith 2-3, Bauerle 0-1.
Belgrade 10, Frenchtown 0
Belgrade 021 07 - 10 10 0
Frenchtown 000 00 - 0 1 0
Erin Elgas and Haylee Curry. Cassidy Bagnell, Sadie Smith (5) and Kendra Williams. W - Elgas (8-0). L - Bagnell.
BELGRADE (11-0) - Kenna Thomas 0-2, Haylee Curry 1-2 (HR), Madi Kreiger 1-3, Olivia Cook 1-3 (HR), Lanie Morgan 1-2 (HR), Maddisen Tomasetti 2-2 (HR), Hazel Eaton 1-3 (2B), Elgas 2-3 (2 2B), Kamie Gorrell 1-3 (2B), Arin Eaton 0-0.
FRENCHTOWN - Bagnell 0-2, Mikaela Field 1-2, Layne Bauer 0-1, Taylor Garren 0-2, Cassidy Moen 0-2, Claire Bagnell 0-2, Hailey Arthur 0-2, Hallie Habeck 0-1, Kendra Williams 0-1.