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Back-to-back champs!

May 29—By CHRIS PETERSON

Hungry Horse News

They never gave up.

The Columbia Falls softball team battled its way back through the bracket to win its second state A championship in a row Saturday night in Billings.

The Kats beat Billings Central 14-3 and 9-6 to take home the title.

The tournament had a rough start, with rain in Billings, which delayed the Wildkats' first game until Friday. The Kats hammered conference foe Ronan 10-0, then dropped Laurel 16-0 and it looked like the state title at that point might come easy.

But then the marathon began.

The girls lost to Central 7-2 in the semifinal, got by Polson 10-8 in the loser out game, and then beat Central twice more Saturday in the double elimination tourney.

Senior pitcher Maddie Moultray pitched a whopping 25 innings on Saturday alone.

She also hit a three-run homer in the top the of the sixth in the championship game as the Kats went up 8-3. Central would answer with three runs in the bottom of the inning, but that was as close as they would get. The game ended on a Central line drive out to second at 11:16 p.m. under the lights.

Moultray struck out seven in the win.

Haden Peters had four hits on five at-bats in the championship, including a solo homer to centerfield in the third.

Central was up 3-0 after two innings, but the Kats kept battling as they have all season. There was Peters homer in the third, then in the fourth Annika Reid would make it to second on fly ball and an error. Addy Bowler then hit a single to drive Reid home. In the fourth Onnikka Lawrence walked, then went to second on a wild pitch. Peters then singled to drive Lawrence home to tie the game. Reid then hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning with one out and the bases loaded to drive in Chevelle Bedford to put the Kats up 4-3.

The Kats added a run in the sixth when Peters singled to drive in Tayler Lingle, then Moultray's blast would clear the bases.

The Kats have been exemplary all year and making the most out of their chances, whether it's a timely bunt or smart base running on an error, they know how to get into scoring position.

Against Ronan, they scored five runs on six hits against the Maidens in the bottom of the fourth. Moultray tripled, Demye Rensel singled, Reid drew a walk, which scored a run and Bella Mann and Bowler both had RBI singles.

Against Polson it was 7-6 Kats after five innings. But in the bottom of the sixth Lingle would stretch a single to a triple on an error and Bowler would score. Lingle would then score on another error and Peters would hit a homer to put the Kats up 10-6.

The only game they weren't able to manufacture runs in was the loss to Central. The Lady Rams were up 4-0 after two, and 7-0 after five.

Even so, Moultray struck out 13 in the loss and only had three earned runs. She had 62 strikeouts in the tourney.

The Wildkats end the season 27-4 overall.

"It was a great team effort," head coach Dave Kehr said during an assembly for the girls Tuesday morning at the high school. "I just appreciate the girls. .. It was easy for me. They did all the hard work."