The Grizzly softball team couldn't summon the magic for another seventh inning comeback Saturday, as they dropped the final game of the regular season against Weber State 9-7.
Weber State 9 (34-17/15-5) , Montana 7(27-25/14-7)
The drama from Friday carried over into Saturday, as the Grizzlies overcame a six-run deficit to tie the game in the fourth, but a late Weber State run put the Griz away for good and locked up the Big Sky regular season championship for the Wildcats.
Weber State bounced back from the losses on Friday with authority, scoring in the first four innings to build an early lead. Sara Hingsberger hit a two-run shot in the first inning to calm the crowd of over 750 at Grizzly Softball Field.
Carley White added another run for the visitors in the second, but Weber State opened things up in the third, scoring three runs on three hits to take a 6-0 lead.
The Wildcats give up less than three runs per game, but they were facing a Montana offense that leads the Big Sky in runs scored and has overcome larger deficits.
The Griz chipped away in the bottom of the third thanks to a two-run shot to left center field bySydney Stites, but Weber scored again in the fourth to move ahead 7-2.
"We just weren't sharp enough defensively or inside the circle early on, and we were just pressing at the plate," coach Jamie Pinkerton said of the slow start. "We were trying to hit five-run homers with nobody on base, and we know that's not possible."
The first two batters for Montana were retired in the bottom of the fourth, and it looked like Weber State would have a 1-2-3 inning until a throwing error by Alyson Kulp put Gabby Martinez on first.
MaKenna McGill and Sydney Stites followed with singles to score Martinez, and Lexie Brenneiswas hit by a pitch to load the bases with Griz trailing by four.
Delene Colburn swung for the fences on a pitch above her numbers, getting on top of it and blasting a grand slam that tied the game at 7-all.
Weber State played textbook softball in the sixth, leading off with a single, bunting the runner over and scoring a run on a Kulp single to right center. The Grizzlies walked three out of four batters later in the inning to score another run for Weber State.
The Grizzlies couldn't recreate the magic from Friday's two-run seventh-inning comeback, dropping the game 9-7.
McGill finished 3-for-5 to finish off a weekend where she hit .538. Stites and Colburn had a home run each and three and four RBIs, respectively. Brenneis went 1-for-3 to finish the weekend batting .545, and Bethany Olea also hit .500 in the series.
As a team, Montana hit .359 and scored 17 runs against the best pitching staff in the Big Sky.
"We did a great job offensively all weekend," Pinkerton said. "We scored seven runs today, and we should probably win with that but we just didn't play well enough defensively."
Before the game, Montana honored Kelsey Lucostic, Meggie Reitz and Madeline Merritt for senior day. Allison Galvin, the graduate assistant coach, was also honored.
The loss takes away Montana's chance at a regular season title, but the Grizzlies still exceeded all expectations set for the second-year program.
"The program is in good shape, the kids need to realize they are still in good shape and shake this off and go and play as well as we can in Ogden," Pinkerton said.
Montana finishes the regular season tied for third with Idaho State. They will play as the No. 4 seed in the Big Sky Tournament in Ogden next weekend.
"A conference championship would have been nice, but all that is is a banner," Pinkerton said. "We want the NCAA bid, so we have to refocus. I think our kids are resilient, and we take out the fact that we had a bunch of sophomores who played championship caliber softball."
Montana Sports Information