Montana Softball Falls to Nevada in Home Opener, Highlights and - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana Softball Falls to Nevada in Home Opener, Highlights and Recap from Friday 3/18

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The home town crowd couldn’t will the Grizzly bats on enough Friday, as the Montana softball team dropped its home opener to a tough Nevada team 3-0.

Montana 0 (7-14), Nevada 3 (16-4)

In the top half of Montana’s first inning at home, nerves seemed to be playing a part for the Griz. Freshman pitcher Maddy Stensby walked a batter, and then threw two wild pitches to advance her to third.

Another walk put runners on first and third for Jasmine Jenkins, who singled into right to score a run. A good play and throw by Sydney Stites cut down Megan Sweet at third and limit possible further damage.

The Grizzly bats were quiet all day, but Montana had a good opportunity in the third inning. The top of Montana’s line-up started with one out, and MaKenna McGill started off with a single. Stites walked and Lexie Brenneis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with just one out.

Delene Colburn hit a hard ball at the third basemen, who handled it and threw McGill out at home. Bethany Olea grounded out in the next at bat, and Nevada got out of the inning with no damage.

In the fourth, Madison Saacke led off with a double, but three straight batters were retired after her hit.

The two pitchers, Stensby for Montana and Brooke Bolinger for Nevada, continued to limit the opposing offenses. In the sixth, a couple mental mistakes from Montana allowed Nevada to extend the lead.

Jenkins hit a one-out single to get a runner on. Melissa Arriaga hit a ball back at Stensby in the next at-bat, and the Grizzly pitcher elected to get the out at first instead of attempting a double-play.

A single by the next hitter brought Jenkins home. Montana got a bit of bad luck on the next at-bat, when Amanda Nicholas blooped a hit over first base and just out of the reach of a diving Martinez.

The runners advanced to second and third, and a run scored when Lexie Brenneis committed a throwing error on a pick-off attempt. Stensby would finally get out of the inning with Montana trailing 3-0. Montana has had big innings pile up on them so far this season.

“We’re getting better,” Pinkerton said. “The inning that we had is an inning where we were giving up four, five, six runs, we were giving up crooked numbers. We gave up a crooked number today, but we limited damage.”

Stensby wouldn’t allow any more damage, finishing with a complete game. She allowed eight hits and two earned runs, striking out five while walking just three.

Stites continued her hot streak, finishing 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. She is 10-for-12 over the past two weekends. Madison Saacke also had a good day at the plate going 2-for-3.

On the other side, Bolinger improved to 7-2 on the year with a complete game five-hitter. She walked four Grizzly batters and hit another, but escaped every jam she faced.

“I didn’t expect her to give up as many free passes as she did,” Pinkerton said. “She gave us some opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize. I would be lot more concerned if we had no opportunities. We had opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them.”

The loss dropped Montana to 7-14 on the season, with half of their losses coming in games decided by three runs or less.

“We struggle in close games and a lot of that has to do with youth and a lot of it is that people have better scouting reports on us,” Pinkerton said. “We’re still learning how to adjust, and last year people had to adjust because they didn’t know us.”

The Grizzlies will have two more games against Nevada over the weekend, as well as a pair of games against Nebraska-Omaha. The Grizzly Classic gives Montana a couple more chances to play tough opponents before beginning Big Sky play next weekend.

“We’ve played close against some very good teams and if we are going to be successful down the road in conference play we’ve got to learn how to win these type of ball games,” Pinkerton said.

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