Class AA Softball Previews - News, Sports and Weather

Class AA Softball Previews

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All eyes will be on the C.M. Russell and Great Falls High softball teams when Class AA state tournament play begins Thursday.

The Bison enter the tournament with a 19-4 record and a number two seed out of the east. They'll face third seeded Missoula Sentinel in the first round.

Great Falls High defeated Sentinel 15-3 a couple weeks ago.

Head coach Mike Coleman said his team isn't taking anything away from that game because the Spartans didn't throw their number one pitcher, and neither did the Bison.

"I think it will be a lower scoring game with 2 better pitchers throwing," Coleman said. "Hopefully our hitting comes through and we should be alright in it."

As for the Rustlers, the defending state champs are the number one seed out of the east.

The Rustlers look to be well on their way to defending their state title from a year ago after ending the season with a 20-1 record.

Before CMR can defend their title, they have to face Missoula Big Sky, a team that surprised CMR earlier in the season.

"They almost beat us last time so we can't take them for granted," said Rustlers head coach Lindsey Gustafson. "Hopefully Tristin (Achenbach) will be ready to go and (we can) just gain confidence that way and come in and get our bats going."

In Helena, both Capital High and Helena High bring top ranked teams to the tournament as well.

The Bruins haven't played in roughly a week after clinching the Western Conference number one seed.  

Head coach Mike Miller said his team has practiced game situations to keep them prepared for any scenario they might see in the tournament.

Capital begins their quest for a state title against Billings Senior, the fourth seed from the east.

"They're just how we expect them to be," Miller said. "They're very capable hitters, they play good defense, it was close last time (the two teams played) so that's what I expect again."

The two seeded Helena High Bengals from the west focused their week of practice on cleaning up mental mistakes so those won't hurt them come tournament time.

The Bengals take on Butte, a team Bengals head coach Ryan Schulte said is "very similar to (the Bengals). He added he's excited for the matchup.

"I think there will be two great pitchers," Schulte said. "Kaidy McClafferty has done a great job for (Butte) this year. I expect the same from her Thursday. Our batting averages are about the same so I think it will be a great matchup and a great game."

The Class AA state tournament will be played Thursday through Saturday at Great Falls' Multisports Complex.

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