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Lady Hawks end softball season at state

May 29—Purists of the sport will tell you that good pitching beats good offense every time.

It doesn't always work that way, but in this case it did.

Senior Paige Goodell threw a masterful one-hitter at a hard-hitting Thompson Falls team in the long-delayed opening game of the 2024 Montana B-C High School championship first round, striking out 14 batters and limiting the Lady Hawks to one along the way.

The result was a 10-0 Shepherd win over Thompson Falls, in a game that helped propel the Fillies to a shot at the state title this past Saturday at the Stewart Park softball complex in Billings.

T Falls completed its 2024 season with a sparkling 19-10 overall record including a state-tournament-qualifying fourth seed in the Western Divisional in Florence.

The Lady Hawks bounced back from the opening round loss this year, which was delayed multiple times due to rain, snow, cold and soggy fields, defeating Glasgow 8-5 in a consolation round game later that same day.

That win moved them along in the consolation round where they ran into Conrad-Choteau, the defending state champions from last year (win over Mission-Arlee-Charlo 8-3). The Cowdawgs unleashed a 17-hit attack to upend Thompson Falls 17-6 and eliminate the Lady Hawks from the tournament.

Last year, in an opening round game against then top-ranked Shepherd, the Lady Hawks burst onto the softball scene with a 12-4 upset of the Fillies in Anaconda.

Revenge for that loss may have been on the minds of Goodell and the Fillies.

After striking out the side in the top of the first, Goodell watched as sophomore Breelyn Fulton smashed a two-run home run over the left center field fence, staking the Fillies to a 2-0 lead after one inning of play. T Falls junior pitcher Olivia Fitchett shook off the dinger and retired the next two Shepherd batters.

Goodell struck out two of the next three batters she faced, giving her five strikeouts of the first six T Falls hitters. First baseman Gabi Hannum was the non-strikeout victim in the second inning, lashing a hard line drive that was snared by a Shepherd infielder.

With Goodell stifling the Thompson Falls offense, the Fillies added two more runs to their total in the bottom of the third, this time aided by a two-run home run by Charlotte White, giving them a 4-0 advantage heading into the top of the fourth. Goodell, who did not walk anyone during her five innings on the mound, picked up six more runs of support in the bottom of inning number four, pushing the Shepherd lead to 10-0. They got their third home run of the game, a two-run shot from Karli Goodell during that six-run uprising.

Shepherd outhit the Lady Hawks 9-1 for the game.

Down, but not out, the Blue Hawks proved they belonged in the tournament when they got their bats going late in the game against Glasgow. Glasgow took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after T Falls was unable to score in the top of the inning. Neither team scored in the second.

T Falls tied the game with a solo run in the top of the third, then watched as Fitchett, who struck out 12 Glasgow hitters during the game, held the Scotties scoreless in the bottom of the third.

However, after shutting down T Falls in the top of the fourth, Glasgow erupted for three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. Neither team scored in the fifth inning.

Then, in the top of the sixth, T Falls plated four runs to take a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. Glasgow squeezed one run across the plate in their half of the sixth inning, knotting the game at 5-5.

The Lady Hawks showcased their small-ball offense in the top of the seventh, pushing across three runs to move ahead 8-5. T Falls had a total of 12 hits in the game, including eight singles.

Olivia Harnett and Sarah Koskela had two doubles each to supplement the T Falls offense in which six different players had one run batted in. The T Falls duo had three hits each to lead the Hawks.

Glasgow actually outhit the Lady Hawks 14-12 for the game, but Fitchett scattered those hits over the course of the game, leaving 10 Scotties left on base during the contest.

With two games under the belts for the day, which featured threatening skies late in the afternoon, T Falls went up against Conrad-Choteau, which came into the game with an 8-10 season mark that was bolstered by a late season surge.

The Cowdawgs jumped on Thompson Falls with four runs in the first and five in the second to build a 9-0 lead after two innings. They added five more runs in the third, giving them a commanding 14-0 lead. Along the way, Conrad belted three home runs as part of a 17-hit attack.

T Falls struck back with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth, but Conrad-Choteau plated three more scores in the bottom of the inning to make it 17-2 heading into the top of the fifth.

The no-quit Lady Hawks scored four runs in the top of the fifth, but it was too little too late for the girls from Thompson Falls.

Season RBI leader Addie Traver was 2-3 at the plate for T Falls and had an RBI along the way. Sophomore first baseman Gabi Hannum drove in a pair of runs for the Lady Hawks, who return a solid line-up for next season.

The Hawks lose standout Harnett to graduation, as well as second baseman MacKenzie Robinson, also to graduation. Robinson was often the catalyst for the Hawks offense from her lead-off hitter spot in the line-up and an outstanding defensive player during the year. Harnett was also a standout defensive player and solid hitter throughout the year.

Thompson Falls senior Olivia Harnett fouls off a pitch from the Shepherd hurler during their games Friday at the State B-C softball championship in Billings. (Chuck Bandel/VP-MI)