Thompson Falls softball coach Jared Koskela knew his team would get an initiation back into high school softball after their program’s one-year hiatus when they opened up with defending Class B-C champion Florence.
Some of Koskela’s players, who have softball experience, are experiencing their first-ever games in high school. To play the defending champs in their first game turned out to a be “positive experience” in the team’s loss Tuesday afternoon at Thompson Falls.
The team turned around and lost to Plains-Hot Springs 11-1 and in spite of the losses, Koskela said he felt his players responded well to the challenge.
“We will face no one tougher this season,” Koskela said. “I don’t think anyone is going to beat Florence and we couldn’t start off facing a better team. When you face elite competition, that is what it is about is winning games. We can watch the elites and figure out what we are doing and try to match that. If we can’t match it, we will try to get close.”
One performer Koskela said he thought “performed well” in the first two games of the season was Lady Bluehawks’ pitcher Kelsey Frank.
“She’s not been pitching for a long time and she is doing a lot of learning,” Koskela said. “In the second game against Plains, she brought her walks down by half and didn’t have many walks. We were able to ride her for four innings. I think if she keeps working to improve, she will be one of the top pitchers in the league.”
Koskela said he is beginning to learn more about his lineup after the first two games of the season.
“One of our goals is to get to the postseason and if we were able to do that, it would be huge,” Koskela said. “For us, it’s not as much about the wins and losses. It’s how much progress we make (during the season).”
Another player that has emerged for the Lady Bluehawks is Belle Cooper, who has already showcased her talent for hitting in the first two games of the season.
“She is starting to become a power hitter for us and smacked two doubles against Plains and also had two strikeouts against Florence,” Koskela said. “She is starting to find her swing and she is one of the upper-tier players that I have.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Thompson Falls. Thompson Falls will take on Anaconda to start a double header Friday at 1 p.m. at Anaconda High School and will play Deer Lodge Saturday at 1 p.m. at Deer Lodge High School to play their second-consecutive double header.
“I think, if we can get the improvement that we got the last two week and continue to work on things that failed us (in the first two games), we will be right in the mix,” Koskela said.