MISSOULA, Mont. - It was a beautiful day to crown a new state class A state champion in Polson over the weekend. The Frenchtown Broncs were the favorites to take the title all season long, and they lived up to those expectations by outscoring their opponents 27-2 over their first three games in the tournament. However things wouldn't be so easy in the championship contest. The Broncs took an early 5-0 lead in the chipper but then the Belgrade Panthers battled back, including two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to tie things up and send it into extra innings.
"It makes it so much better knowing that it wasn't an easy victory," said junior pitcher Morgan Ray, "It was a battle."
"It was crazy and it was back and forth," said Broncs head coach Eli Field. "That's probably the best somebody has put the barrel on the ball against Morgan all year long."
After a scoreless 8th inning, the Frenchtown offense finally powered back up in the top of the 9th. A two-run homer off the bat of Kaylee Prather made it a 9-5 Broncs advantage and that would prove to be the final run scored in the contest.
"I was on third and I screamed at her 'Come on Kaylee, you got it, you got it,'" said senior third baseman Keegan Wickman. "And she just jacked it and I started jumping up and down because I knew it was gone. It was just one of those feelings where you see it in the air and you're like, 'That's it, right there.'"
"That was clutch," added Field about Prather's homer. "It was big and she had a big day all day long. She got into that (pitch) and she had a 3-for-4 game in the state championship game. Morgan comes out and I hand her the ball after that inning and she goes, 'That makes me feel good.'"
This is the ninth state title for Frenchtown softball, but it's the first ever back-to-back championship performance the Broncs have had since becoming a Class 'A' program.
"We had a target on our back the whole entire season but we stayed humble," said senior second baseman Kayla Blood.
"We didn't want to say it at all before so now that we can finally say it, it feels so good just to get that two-peat," said senior first baseman Vanessa Stavish.
"They never took a day off," said Field of this year's squad. "I think that says a lot about who they are."
The title closes the door on a talented group of veterans: all five graduating seniors will be playing college sports at the next level.
"This is it, I mean this is all I have and I'm so glad it ended this way," smiled Blood. "It's like a fairytale."
"It's just so great to see these guys walking around with their families right now, and the tears, and just how much it meant to them," explained Field. "That's so gratifying as a coach to see them have that memory forever... again."
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