Helena High returns after a 12-13 season and an early exit from the state tournament. This year, they the Bengals return every starter in the infield, but their inexperience could show in the outfield.
"Mechanically," Head coach Ryan Schulte said, "we have to get back to fundamentals, right now. But I hope that's a strength for us in the field and their communication."
A big part of the defense is four-year starter Taryn Holland. The senior says last year's loss provided lessons that will carry over to this season.
"It was our second year in the state tournament," Holland said. "I still think we were learning how to compete there and what it takes to keep going in the state tournament."
Offense is where the Bengals hopeHelena hopes to make their biggest stride.
"Figuring out how to be tougher at the plate," Schulte said, "how to push people across with runners in scoring position and getting some of those timely hits."
Across town, Capital went 14-11 a year ago. The Bruins look to extend their state tournament streak to 32 straight years on the heels of their depth.
"We have all the players," Coach Mike Miller said. "It's always a different year and who can make the big play. I've got of good players some of them just need to step up and be leaders and be that great player for us."
Capital returns a handful of seniors, including Shelby VanHemelryck, who returns after missing last season with due to having heart surgery.
"There are five seniors so we expect something big," VanHemelryck said. "All the juniors are pretty experienced too, so we see them as leaders as well."
Despite a roster filled with upperclassmen juniors and seniors, Bruins head coach Mike Miller views his team differently.
"We don't have any seniors as far as I'm concerned," Miller said. "The only time we have seniors is on Senior Day. We have 29 players in our program and they're all the same."
Thursday's game will start at 4 p.m. at Mihelish Field.