Heading into the postseason, last year’s run to second in the state for the Scottie girls’ softball team is in their back of their mind. And yet, it isn’t.
“We take it one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time,” said junior catcher Mariah Stein.
It’s a sports cliche. Everybody has heard them at every level of competition. Usually, they’re just platitudes. In this case though, it’s the mindset of the entire team.
In 2012, the Scottie girls, mostly comprised of sophomores, went into the postseason without a ton of expectations. Yet, they came out of it runner-ups in the state. They rose to the occasion by winning one game at a time and never letting the magnitude of their accomplishments break them.
That’s how Head Coach Mark Falcon wants them to attack the postseason this time around, focusing on the little things.
“We need to concentrate on our defense, hit the cut offs, getting the ball in, don’t let the other guys take an extra base on us, execute our bunt defense,” he said.
Still, that doesn’t mean that last year’s run is completely forgotten.
“I think it is in the back of our minds because we know what we can do and we know the chances we have but we’re not looking to go ‘oh, we’re going to be state champions.’ We’re like, ‘we’re going to win this game and once we have that win, we’ll work on winning the next one and work our way up,’” said junior third baseman Sage Sukut.
However, last year’s run, and this year’s dominance, an overall 13-2 record with only one loss against a Class B team, does put more expectations on this year’s team to, perhaps, come home state champions.
The Scotties enter the Eastern B Divisionals on Friday and Saturday in Columbus as the top seed with a 7-0 conference record and a first-round bye. The Cut Bank Lady Wolves, due to attrition, had to withdraw from the divisional, leaving seven teams for the double-elimination tournament.
With the bye, Glasgow is already only one win away from a spot in the state tournament, but that’s not the only objective.
“One win will get us to state but after that first win, if we get that win, we want to play for positioning. We want to be that number one spot. That’s our goal,” said Falcon.
The Scotties will play their first game on Friday at 3 p.m. against the winner of fourth-seed Columbus or fifth-seed Shelby, who will play earlier on Friday. A win there would put the Scotties in the divisional championship.
But Glasgow has already seen how much teams have progressed throughout the year, after dropping their first contest of the year to a Class B team in their regular-season finale against Huntley Project on Saturday.
The Scottie girls started slow, getting shut out through the first five innings, allowing Huntley to go ahead 3-0 through five innings. Glasgow tied the Lady Red Devils in the seventh when their bats finally awoke, but Huntley scored two in the eighth for the 5-4 win.
Their bats seemed to start slow the day before against Shepherd, as well. They were shut out through three innings before crossing eight in the fourth on their way to a 9-1 win. The Scottie girls also defeated Colstrip 11-1 on Friday. Shyla Bergtoll earned the wins in both games, her 13th and 14th wins of the season.
“We definitely need to get our bats going a lot earlier,” said Sukut.
Falcon also added that maybe the girls were playing down to the competition at times, as well.
“We need to play our best instead of their best,” he said.
The Scottie girls’ best is really, really good. They’ve scored 15 runs in a game seven times and have mercied teams six times this season, including Class A Glendive.
Bergtoll enters with a 14-2 record and a 1.96 ERA. She’s struck out 109 and only walked 39 in 100 innings of work. On offense, five players have at least 18 RBIs on the season, led by Stein, who has 25 with two home runs, two triples and three doubles in 58 at bats.
Sadie Sukut has the most extra-base hits with 16 – one home run, four triples and 11 doubles – and Bergtoll leads in home runs with three. Alex Page is second on the team with 27 hits and Abbi Kolstad is second in runs with 25.
The lineup is deep and Bergtoll has proven she can shut down the opposing team for a full game – two no-hitters this season.
The Scottie girls will be viewed as prohibitive favorites going into the tournament.
But, as Stein says, they’ll still be taking it one game at a time.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. on Friday with #2 Shepherd taking on #7 Colstrip, and #3 Huntley Project playing #6 Conrad. Columbus and Shelby will play at 11.
The championship game will be played at 2 p.m. and, if necessary, a second game will be play directly after the conclusion.