2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

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alabamagrizzly
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2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by alabamagrizzly » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:29 am

2017 Softball Preview

Montana's 2017 edition of softball is only a week away and this year should prove to be an exciting year full of more firsts for these ladies, hopefully including Montana's first BSC softball championship and a trip to the national tournament. With almost every major contributor returning this year, save Lexi Brennies, big things are expected from the team that calls the Grizzly Softball Field it's home.

2016 season recap

Last years team made leaps and bounds from its inaugural campaign of 2015. Going into its final weekend of the regular season, the ladies hosted rivals Weber State and needed a three game sweep to win the regular season title and host the con tourney. After sweeping the first two on Saturday, it came down to the final game. Unfortunately the girls couldn't pull it off and finished forth, coinciding with their con tourney finish of forth. Coach Pinkerton ended up winning Coach of the Year honors and Sydney Stites took home Montana's second Freshman of the Year award in as many seasons although the previous winner and last years 1st Team All Conference catcher, Brennies won't be returning this year after wishing to return home. Last years team also took home two more 1st Team con athletes, along with three 2nd teamers and an honorable mention winner, all of which will be returning this year. For a more detailed recap, here's a link.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=73895

Montana Stats-
http://stats.gogriz.com/sports/w-softbl ... h=softball

Projected Starters for 2017

This years line up will be pretty much the same as its been for the first two years, just a lot more experienced.

1B Jr Ashlyn Lyons has started 77 of 79 games she's appeared in the last two years. She has been a steady .300 hitter both years, winning All Conference Honorable Mention both years. A very steady fielder also, she should keep her position locked down for the next two years, barring any injury making her miss time like the first 15 games of last season.

2B Jr Gabby Martinez has started 96 of 98 games played for the Griz at second base. Although she's not a major offensive threat, she is always in the league leaders is steals and sac bunts. She has also been an outstanding fielder and usually among the league leaders at 2B in fielding percentage.

3B Sr Bethany Olea is the lone Sr on this years team and definitely one of the team leaders. Making great improvements last year of her 2nd Team honors from '15 earned her 1st Team honors in '16. Among the league leaders in almost every offensive category, she will be looking to go out with a bang this year to complete her college career.

SS Jr Delene Colburn is a monster. Like Olea, she has started all 106 of the games that Montana has played in at her position. An Honerable Mention winner in '15, she earned 2nd Team honors last year and both years has consistently been among the league leaders in in all major offensive categories except steals. She also improved in the field cutting her errors committed in half from 18 to 9. With last years 1st Team and Con Player of the Year graduating from Weber State, it should open up the door for Delene to dominate the next two years.

LF Jr Alex Wardlow/Jr Tori Lettus/Jr Mercedes Bourgeau. This spot is the toss up. Any one of these girls could take and depending on how quickly they develop, one of our two Fr outfielders could take over also. All three of the Jr's have had their moments but none have been able to lock it down. Lettus may be the front runner offensively but she's also the number one back up IF'er. Bourgeau started with the job last year and has had a couple good fall seasons but Wardlow took it over last year after Bourgeau's production declined and she took home an All Tourny Team honor. I give the edge to her to start the season.

CF Jr MaKenna McGill has started 103 games in CF and is a two time 2nd Team All Con selection, although I think she was snubbed last year. First off, none of the 1st teamers are CF's. Second, minus homers and RBI's, She was among the team and league leaders in most all offensive categories. She also did not commit any errors playing every inning in CF last year.

RF So Sydney Stites can play almost anywhere. A standout SS on her Bozeman High team, she started at 1B the first 17 games until Lyons returned from injury and then moved out to RF the final 39 to put her highly capable bat in the lineup where little production had come before. All she did was take home 1st Team Con honors and Freshman of the Year. Expect a lot more from this young lady.

C Jr Madison Saacke will most likely be tasked with the job to replace Brennies as long as her knee stays healthy. She can play most anywhere but ultimately has been mostly utilized as the DP. She has started 56 of the 72 career games she's appeared in including 30 starts last year from the DP slot. Especially with the way her bat improved last year, she should have another solid season this year.

DP Fr Morgan Johnson, the Msla Big Sky product, will probably fall into the DP slot and be the only true Fr in the starting line up. A proven power and high average hitter out of high school, she's already shown in her first fall league, she can hit in college too collecting a HR, 8 RBI's and several hits as the forth most productive Griz out of the fall season. When her defensive abilities catch up to her bat, she may take over the C slot also, especially if Saacke goes down with another injury.

The Reserves

OF Jr Katie Jo Waletzko/Jr MaKenzie Phillips. These two will add veteran depth to the outfield and mostly will be used in pinch hit/run situations.
OF Fr Anne Mari Petrino/Fr Kylie Hayton. Two true Fr outfielders that could be anywhere from starting in LF to redshirting.
C Jr Dani Walker has been a serviceable backup two years now and should be for the next two. If it wasn't for the Fr Johnson doing so well in fall, Dani might be up for the starting spot this season but as it is, I still see her helping out this team a lot.

The Pitchers

P So Sara Stephenson was the "Ace" of the staff and will probably continue to be so. Among the league leaders in most pitching categories last year, she took home 2nd Team honors.

P So Maddie Stensby is a very stout #2 and could contend for the best pitcher in the team still. She was better then Sara in some areas and not so much in others. Both will set some high standards by the time their careers are over though.

P Fr Michaela Hood was dominant in fall and could end up pushing Maddie and Sara for the best on the team as a true Fr. In 14 innings last fall, she struck out 7 and allowed 3 runs and looked every bit the part of a college pitcher.

P Jr Haley Young/So Colleen Driscoll. Both will still see innings this year, just not as much as the first three. Young is a more experienced and well traveled pitcher and will probably be the #4. Colleen was used the least in the reg season but had some very solid relief appearances in the con tourney.

Incoming Fr

P Michaela Hood was named the Nevada 1-A Sunset League Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year as a junior and second team all-state. Her Sr year she was 1st team all state and her team won state. She was an amazing 17-0 in 20 games and had roughly a 0.5 era.

C/IF Morgan Johnson led Western AA in home runs and RBIs and was one of the league's leaders in hits and batting average as a Jr and a Sr. She was a key member of Big Sky High teams that finished second at state in both 2014 and '15. She also was 1st team All-State as a Jr and a Sr.

OF Anne Mari Petrino was an all-state selection as a freshman at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas. She was named first-team All-Great Northern League as a sophomore and junior at Pullman High and the team's offensive MVP both years. In '16 she was named the league MVP.

CF Kylie Hayton has played on a couple of highly ranked club teams. She has very good speed and covers a lot of ground in centerfield.

Here's a link to the Go Griz roster.
http://gogriz.com/roster.aspx?path=softball

The Fall Season

Montana went 7-1 this last fall losing for only the second time in our short history in fall. Of course that loss was a tuff 7-8 defeat at the hands of #13 nationally ranked Washington. Some of the usual faces stared this fall and a couple newbies gave glimpses of things to come.
Ashlyn Lyons and Bethany Olea both had real productive fall seasons as expected.
Sydney Stites was a beast collecting at least 11 hits with 2 doubles and 4 homers. She also had 14 RBI's and 10 runs. I'd say she's ready to earn a league MVP here pretty soon.
P Sara Stephenson also looked in good form. In 15 innings work she gave up 6 runs but 5 of those came in one ruff inning.
A couple of Fr in C Morgan Johnson and P Michaela Hood also looked ready to shine this year. Johnson collected 8 RBI in her 8 games and Hood allowed 3 runs in her 14 innings worked. We should expect big things from these 2 this year and years to come.

A look at our 2017 schedule

Of our 20 non conference opponents, 8 of them finished last year on the top 100, 5 in the top 50, and Oregon and Utah both finished in the top 25. 6 more finished outside of the top 100 but still ranked ahead of us in the seasons final rankings. That's 70% of our non-con schedule that were considered better teams then us last year. They'll be some good matchups to prove our worth and national stature before we get to the heart of our schedule, the conference games.
This years con schedule is a little unfavorable to us. Currently us, Web St, Sac St, and Ida St are the con "powers". Last year we played at Ida St and had Web St and Sac St at home going 3-6 in the regular season. The locations rotate this year and we face Web St and Sac St on the road with Web St as the season finale, and possibly for the regular season crown again. Web St and Sac St were also the only teams picked ahead of us in the BSC preseason poll.
Back to the non-con schedule, there are a couple of key opponents that make interesting matchups. One that stands out is another team that Coach Pinkerton helped build up in Tulsa. Ranked 41st in the country at the end of last year, they are the American Conference favorites and will start the year ranked 33rd nationally. Oh, and that game will be in Tulsa. We will also challenge the Missouri Vally Conference this year playing the 1st, 2nd, and 4th place teams in their pre-season poll in Drake, Wichita St, and Northern Iowa. They also finished top 3 in the con last year. Looking to make a bigger foot print in the West, we will play the 6th ranked team in the West Coast Con in Santa Clara who has 40th nationally ranked BYU in their con; the 3rd and 6th ranked teams in the WAC in Seattle and Utah Valley; the 5th ranked team in the Big West in Hawaii who shares a con with 35th nationally ranked Cal-State Fullerton; and the 4th, 6th, and 9th ranked teams in the MWC in Utah St, UNLV, and Boise St who all play in 24th ranked Fresno States con. Add in Oregon(9th nationally), Utah(18th), and Cal(34th) and it is a very formidable schedule. For good measure, we also play the American East reigning con champs in Maine and Texas Tech who plays in the same con as returning national champion and unanimously ranked #1 Oklahoma. Like these girls and people who are close to the team I'm sure, I'm expecting some big things from them.

Sneak peak
Here's a look at next years recruiting class as they're starting their Sr years in high school.
http://gogriz.com/news/2016/11/10/griz- ... -four.aspx
P Tristin Achenbach out of Conrad-Choteau will play her Sr year at CMR. As a Fr she was All-State. As a So she repeated the All-State selection and added Eastern Division MVP. As a Jr she repeated both of those and added Mt Gatorade POY and a MaxPreps small school All-American to her credentials. Her Jr year was complete domination. 23-0 and a 0.19 era, both state records. 19 shutouts, 12 no hitters, and 4 perfect games, the last in the state championship game giving her team their second state title in a row. In a 151 innings she struck out 338 batters(more then two an inning), walked only 6 and gave up 24 hits allowing a .052 batting average. That's 1 hit every 20 batters. Taking her game to Montana's highest level should give a better indication of what she's got but there's no question she should be a great one.
SS/IF/OF Savannah Voyles of CMR in Montana, is the SS for the defending state champions. As a So she was second team All-State and as a Fr and Jr she was 1st team winning her team MVP the last two years. She's a left handed batter that hits for power and average.
2B/SS Alexis Knauss from Meridian High in Id. She's a three time Idaho 5A Southern Conference 1st team selection predominantly playing SS, not just for athletics but academics also. She has power ability but hits for a very high average in her small 5'2" frame. She also plays 2B for her national team, which is where she'll probably find her role here after Gabby Martinez graduates.
C/3B Jessica McAlister of La Cueva High in Albuquerque NM is a great addition. All three years she made her districts All First Team while her team was district champion every year. She hits for a high average with a great fielding percentage while playing catcher and 3B, where she may find her starting role after Olea graduates.

One more to watch for who should be part of Montana's 2019 recruiting class is Cayley Bushong of Great Falls High. As a So in '16, she led the state with 13 hr and 45 rbi. She was also 4th in the state with a .511 ba.
"In Bill's(Wild Bill Kelly) tragic death there might be some message for the college society that basks in the glory of the football team and the individual heroes, but overlooks the fact that they are like the rest of us with conflicts, fears, frustrations, and weakness."-Joseph Cochran, friend of Kelly's

GrizSBDad
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by GrizSBDad » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:51 pm

Great preview! Looking forward to the 2017 season! GO GRIZ

alabamagrizzly
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by alabamagrizzly » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:08 pm

GrizSBDad wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:51 pm
Great preview! Looking forward to the 2017 season! GO GRIZ
Thanks SBdad. I hope I did your daughter some justice. Should be a fun year this year.
"In Bill's(Wild Bill Kelly) tragic death there might be some message for the college society that basks in the glory of the football team and the individual heroes, but overlooks the fact that they are like the rest of us with conflicts, fears, frustrations, and weakness."-Joseph Cochran, friend of Kelly's

logchain20
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by logchain20 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:50 pm

Thanks, Alabamagrizzly. Where do you think they will finish in all honesty? GrizSBDad, what insight can you bring? I hope this is their year! It was exciting to watch last year. Hard to tell after the fall since its exhibition

alabamagrizzly
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by alabamagrizzly » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:22 am

logchain20 wrote:
Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:50 pm
Thanks, Alabamagrizzly. Where do you think they will finish in all honesty? GrizSBDad, what insight can you bring? I hope this is their year! It was exciting to watch last year. Hard to tell after the fall since its exhibition
I deffenetly think they have a chance to go to the national tourney by winning our conference. Our pitching should improve from last year with more expirince. Our top two pitchers were true Fr last year and our #3 was a So that transferred in from one of the worst cons in the NCAA so there was definitely a learning curve. Losing Brennies was a blow for sure but I don't think it will impact our hitting too much. Saacke will move into the catcher spot and will play almost just as well as Brennies minus the power. Morgan Johnson should fill in for her at the DP slot though and add the power that Saacke didn't have last year there. It should balance out. Everyone else will return and experience only makes you better. Stites is gonna be a monster and should be in the running for league MVP. Playing Sac St and Weber on the road will hurt some but Weber lost their league MVP to graduation so they won't be as good. Sac returns last years con Pitcher of the year though so it should be interesting. Can't wait for Fri to get this season started.
"In Bill's(Wild Bill Kelly) tragic death there might be some message for the college society that basks in the glory of the football team and the individual heroes, but overlooks the fact that they are like the rest of us with conflicts, fears, frustrations, and weakness."-Joseph Cochran, friend of Kelly's

logchain20
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by logchain20 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:53 pm

I worry about a slow start. Team probably has not been outside at all. A lot of snow on the ground in Western Montana. We'll see. To win in non-conference would be nice, but hopefully they can get out in the next couple weeks to fine tune their game.

alabamagrizzly
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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by alabamagrizzly » Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:13 pm

logchain20 wrote:
Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:53 pm
I worry about a slow start. Team probably has not been outside at all. A lot of snow on the ground in Western Montana. We'll see. To win in non-conference would be nice, but hopefully they can get out in the next couple weeks to fine tune their game.
That's one of the downsides for girls coming to Montana. We won't play at home until March 17th, a week before the con sched starts. We'll play weekend invites at Cedar Falls Iowa(indoor), Santa Clara Ca, Honolulu, St George Ut, and Tulsa Ok. It's against some pretty impressive opposition also, so I wouldn't worry too much about a poor non con record. It will definitely prepare us for the con games which is where we need to be at our best to win the con and make it to the national tourney where the top 64 out of almost 300 D1 schools get invited. Last year Weber won the con ranked 78th in the country. It'll be a couple more years where a non con winner from the Big Sky gets invited, but I think we're on track to maybe be one of those teams someday.
"In Bill's(Wild Bill Kelly) tragic death there might be some message for the college society that basks in the glory of the football team and the individual heroes, but overlooks the fact that they are like the rest of us with conflicts, fears, frustrations, and weakness."-Joseph Cochran, friend of Kelly's

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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by HookedonGriz » Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:20 pm

Great preview with some very solid information. Thank you for putting this together I enjoy keeping up with the fast pitch.

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Re: 2017 Grizzly Softball Preview

Post by Ursa Major » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:44 pm

HookedonGriz wrote:
Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:20 pm
Great preview with some very solid information. Thank you for putting this together I enjoy keeping up with the fast pitch.
+1 Great work Bama!
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