Bethany Olea had a big day at the plate and the starting pitchers for Montana dominated as the Grizzlies rolled to two wins and the Griz Fall Classic title Sunday at Grizzly Softball Field.
Montana 10, Spokane Falls 1
In the first game of the day for Montana, MaKenna McGill led things off with a single into left, and then moved to third on a well executed hit-and-run with Ashlyn Lyons at the plate. She scored on a wild pitch to get Montana on the board.
After a single from Sydney Stites, Olea drove in a couple of runners with a single into center field to give the Griz a 3-0 lead after the first.
The top of the order came back up in the second inning, and produced once again. Lyons ripped a ball over the right fielder for an RBI triple. After a couple of Grizzly walks, Olea racked up a couple more RBIs with a single up the middle that scored two.
Freshman Morgan Johnson picked up an RBI on a groundout to the second baseman that gave the Griz a commanding 7-0 lead after two innings.
Montana's bats cooled over the next couple innings, but Sara Stephenson dominated inside the circle through four innings. She retired Spokane Falls' batters in order in two of her four innings and allowed just two hits. Of the 12 outs recorded while Stephenson pitched, seven of them came on strikeouts.
In the top of the fourth, Johnson caught a CCS player stealing to end the inning.
Colleen Driscoll entered in the fifth inning for Montana and gave up a couple of hits and a run in her first half inning of work before settling into the game.
Alex Wardlow put a drive into the ball in her first at bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, hitting a solo shot that put the Griz up 8-1.
Johnson added another run for the Griz in the sixth on a double to left center that scored Olea. Mercedes Bourgeau then hit a single into center field to get Montana into double digits.
Driscoll didn't allow a hit in her final two innings of work and Olea made a diving stop and a throw from her knees for the final out of the game to seal the 10-1 victory.
Montana stole three bases as a team, with Gabby Martinez, Kylie Hayton and Katie Jo Waletzko all swiping second. Montana started all three positional freshmen, who played the entire seven innings.
"The first game I wanted to get the freshmen a full seven so they could go out and be comfortable knowing they weren't going to come out after three or four innings," Pinkerton said. "I think even from day one of the fall all of the freshmen have progressed."
Montana 5, Carroll College 2
The Griz didn't open the scoring until the third inning in the final game of the day. Olea dropped a single into center field that scored Stites and Lyons to put Montana ahead 2-0.
Carroll struck right back in the top of the fourth in the form of a solo home run by Allison Bayer that cut the Griz lead back to one.
Stites answered Bayer's home run with a solo shot of her own, blasted nearly to the parking lot in left center field. Colburn and Wardlow each recorded hits, and then Johnson brought home both runners with a sliced single down the right field line.
Facing their final out of the game, Caroll College started a mini two-out rally. A couple of singles into right field, the second which was mishandled by Stites, scored another Saints run and put a runner on third. Haley Young forced a pop out for the final out of the game, giving the Griz a 5-2 win and the tournament championship.
Freshman Michaela Hood started the second game for Montana, throwing four innings and striking out six batters. She allowed three hits and just one run to finish off an impressive fall season.
"I would be surprised if her ERA is over one," Pinkerton said of his young pitcher. "She came in and had a great performance today with six strikeouts against a team that puts the ball in play. We wanted to give her a start against a good ball club, and Carroll played us tough both times this fall."
Hood wasn't the only Griz pitcher to find success inside the circle. Stephenson dominated her start, and Young had two strikeouts in her three innings of work. Driscoll, after the bumpy started, rebounded to throw a pair of clean innings.
"You usually know what you lack in your program, and this fall was really one of the first times where I feel comfortable with our pitching staff," Pinkerton said. "I think they all did a really good job except for one inning against Washington and one inning against Billings, but if you can stretch that out over eight ball games I felt the pitching staff did really well."
Olea finished the day with six RBIs, followed closely by Johnson who had four total. Wardlow and Stites each left the yard, and Lyons and McGill also had impressive days at the plate.
The Grizzlies improved their overall fall record to 22-2 in program history. Coach Pinkerton received a good look at his team before the offseason. Montana begins the regular season on Feb. 10 at the UNI Dome Classic.
"We need to step into the offseason, hit the weight room, get strong and work on little things that we need to do to rise to the top of the Big Sky," Pinkerton said. "It's a grind, and we have the capability-- we proved it last year-- to play for a title."
Courtesy: Montana Sports Information