Griz Softball Sweeps Carroll, Pinkerton gets 300th Win - News, Sports and Weather

Griz Softball Sweeps Carroll, Pinkerton gets 300th Win

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The rain wasn’t the only type of shower in Missoula on Tuesday, as coach Jamie Pinkerton received a postgame water-cooler bath from his team after winning his 300th career game against Carroll College at the Grizzly Softball Field.

Montana 11, Carroll College 1 (5 innings)

The hits came early and often for Montana in the opener, as they jumped out to the 11-1 lead after just three innings and held on for a win by way of the run-rule.

MaKenna McGill led the game off offensively for Montana with a single through the left side and scored one batter later when Sydney Stites ripped a double into the gap in left-center.

A couple batter later, Bethany Olea also doubled to score Stites. Olea would score on the second error of the inning for Carroll, as Montana left the first with a 3-0 lead.

In the second, the Grizzlies added a couple more runs thanks to RBIs from Lexie Brenneis and Delene Colburn.

Carroll scored a run on one hit in the third inning, but Montana went on a massive two-out rally in the bottom of three to put the game away.

The first two Grizzly batters were retired, but Mercedes Bourgeau drew a walk to keep the inning going. McGill followed that with a single, and then Stites crushed a three-run shot to left-center.

A pitching change was made after a double from Brenneis and a Colburn walk, but even the new pitcher couldn’t slow down the Grizzly offense. Bethany Olea singled to score Dani Walker, who pinch ran for Brenneis.

Madison Saacke stepped up next, doubling to left field to score both runners and give Montana the 11-1 advantage after a six-run inning.

Sara Stephenson pitched well in the starting spot, going four innings and giving up five hits and one run as she improved to 8-5 on the season. Colleen Driscoll delivered a 1-2-3 inning in relief to end the game in five.

Montana 10, Carroll College 0 (5 innings)

In game two, Montana again used a big inning offensively and a shutdown performance on the mound to send Grizzly fans home two innings early, as Maddy Stensby picked up the win in five innings.

Saacke, who has been extremely productive in clutch situations this year, chipped a ball just over the second baseman into right field to score a couple of runs in the first inning to get Stensby a lead.

The freshman ace kept Carroll off the board, and in the bottom of the fourth inning everything fell in place for the Montana offense.

Tess Eaton, who had the programs first no-hitter last week, pitched for Carroll, and held the Grizzlies mostly in check through three. But the frenzy hitting Montana team scored at will in the fourth to close the second game in a row in five innings.

Tori Lettus led off with a walk, followed by a pair of singles by Alex Wardlow and McGill to load the bases with no outs and the heart of the Grizzly lineup waiting in the wings.

Stites was out on a fielder’s choice, but a dropped ball by the Carroll catcher allowed a run to score and kept the bases juiced. Brenneis scored a run on an infield single, and Colburn hit a sacrifice fly to get the Grizzly lead up to 5-0.

Montana was far from done, as Olea, who has now reached base safely in 30 consecutive games, drew a walk to load the bases again. Saacke and Ashlyn Lyons, who is on a 14-game hit streak, singled to score a couple more runs.

Lettus came back to the plate and brought home two more with a single into left center. Wardlow picked up her second hit of the inning on a chopper over the pitcher to make it 10-0 at the end of the fourth.

Meggie Reitz came in to pitch the fifth inning and didn’t allow a hit to secure the win. The pitching staff put together a good day, allowing only one run over the 10 innings, after struggling last week.

“We pounded the zone and worked ahead in the count, didn’t have a lot of walks,” Pinkerton said. “We didn’t get deep into counts a lot. We’ve been throwing a lot of pitches the last couple weeks but I though we commanded the zone and didn’t give up many free passes.”

The game one win not only got Coach Pinkerton to 300 career wins, but it also broke a six-game losing streak for the Grizzlies. Hopefully the wins will help the pitching and defense regain some much needed confidence.

“We had a rough road trip, the kids were pretty devastated after the Idaho State series and I just told them to keep plugging away,” Pinkerton said. “There are peaks and valleys in the season, nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems, and you just have to go out and keep playing.”

It was a good answer on Tuesday, as the Grizzly victories were never in doubt. The offense continued to produce at a high rate and the pitching was much improved. Pinkerton said todays results are an outcome of playing all three facets well.

The offense is averaging over 7.5 runs per game over the last seven games, and it will need to continue to produce as the Grizzlies prepare for a conference series against Portland State, who sit one game ahead of Montana in the Big Sky standings, this weekend.

“At some point in time there is going to be a valley, but we just need to continue to hit and score runs,” Pinkerton said. “We also need to have our pitchers throw with conviction and confidence. I think that’s been kind of lacking when things haven’t gone their way, but today I think they bounced back.”

Pinkerton, who also coached at Tulsa and Arkansas, got to 300 career wins after six previous attempts went awry. He credited his coaching staffs, and said he was worked with really good student-athletes along the way.

“Those milestone wins always seem to be the toughest ones to get,” Pinkerton said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be a head coach for 11 or 12 years now, and I got the 100th at one school, 200th at another and now 300th at the third. My plan is to get a lot more wins here.”

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