T-Falls softball hopes for play-in game

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The Thompson Falls’ softball team continues to gain learning experiences from each passing game according to Lady Bluehawk’s head coach Jared Koskela.

Koskela’s team gained some momentum a road victory over Deer Lodge they hoped to carry into this week’s doubleheader games against Loyola and Manhattan Christian, but their quest to build on their first victory of the season fell short against the established program.

The T-Falls girls faced Loyola’s established pitcher Kayla Hickethier in the first game and were shut out 12-0. Despite the loss, Koskela said he felt the game against a dominant pitcher was a good learning experience for his team of varied levels of experience.

“The first game we played against Hickethier and she pitched the whole game,” Koskela said. “The loss was a case of good pitching and most of our players haven’t faced pitchers like that for a long time. It was the runs and the good pitcher that kind of killed us. We held our own for a while and they didn’t 10-run us right away.”

The Lady Hawks got redemption in their second game of the doubleheader and won 17-16 in a high-scoring affair.

Lady Bluehawks’ Maya Stiles brought in two runs in a walk that allowed the Hawks to win the game.

“Even though we were playing against their JV fielder and the second team, we were pretty happy about the win,” Koskela said. “We’ll take it.”

In the second portion of the team’s doubleheader, the Bluehawks’ faced their mirror image, according to Koskela.

Manhattan Christian, like Thompson Falls, is a newly-formed team at the Montana State Activities Association Class B-C level this year.

Manhattan Christian is completely new, while T-Falls took a year’s sabbatical before reentering Class B-C competition in 2018.

“On paper, we are as evenly matched as I’ve seen all season,” Koskela said. “We made mistakes on both sides and it was a back and forth game for both teams.”

Despite the see-saw nature of the contest, Thompson Falls lost 9-7 and 8-7.

“We didn’t come out at the end of either game and some of our freshmen that didn’t have any experience struggled,” Koskela said. “We played them close and hit really well. Sometimes you have to take what you can get.”

Koskela knows his team is gaining valuable experience as they hope for a berth in Divisionals by getting a chance to play in the play-in game.

“We are fighters, we are getting lots of varsity experience and that will only help us for next year,” Koskela said.

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