The Montana softball team did not have the field advantage they experienced in previous seasons when they made their first stint at home in nearly two years.
The Griz (6-17) were outscored 20-3 in two games on Saturday as they lost a double to Utah Valley in Missoula. They’ve fallen to 1-4 this season at Grizzly Softball Field, a place where they were 16-3 in 2019 and before that time home they were 66-25 since the establishment opened in 2015.
We didn’t come out ready and prepared to play. I’ll take responsibility for it, UM head coach Melanie Meuchel said in a press release.
Montana won on Friday, but that momentum apparently did not continue. The Griz were excluded for the fourth time this season in a 12-0 loss. They were limited to one hit from pitcher Brooke Carter in the five-innings loss, as the UVU had 11 hits.
MU rookie Allie Brock allowed five runs on six hits over two innings as she fell to 1-4. Sophomore Ashley Ward gave up seven runs, five earned, on seven hits in the last three innings.
This has happened several times in the year, when we have a decent release and come back with a not-so-decent release, Meuchel said. We need to have more consistency. It is our challenge to move forward.
Le Griz started the offense in Game 2, but lost 8-3. McKenna Tjaden had an RBI single in the first inning. Brooklyn Weisgram, who was hit on Friday, scored from a pitch error and Cami Sellers called with an RBI brace as Montana tied the score at 3-3 in the second inning.
MU rookie Anna Toon allowed seven runs, five earned, on six hits in 3.2 innings as she fell to 0-1. Ward limited damage to one point on three hits in 3.1 innings of relief, but UVU still finished with nine hits versus seven for UM.
The Griz will try to save a victory against Utah Valley (10-11) in the series final at noon Sunday in Missoula. This is their last tune-up before they start playing Big Sky in Portland State on March 27-28.
We will arrive tomorrow and we will have a mission on how we were going to attack the day, Griz style, Meuchel said. When were in the box, we own the box. When we were on the mound, we own the plate. We have to throw, defend and hit as if we are in control of what we are doing.
Montana abandoned a 5-2 decision over the Portland Pilots Saturday in Portland to drop to 3-7 before playing Big Sky.
UM junior Oisin Shaffrey and freshman Moritz Stoeger each had singles victories. Shaffrey took a 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory over short two, while Stoeger took a marathon victory over short six, 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (11).
Stoeger and senior Chase Bartlett opened the day with a 6-4 victory on court three, but UM abandoned the other two doubles matches and failed to earn the doubles point.
Next, Montana will begin conference action against the State of Portland at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The league’s top two teams advance to the pandemic-modified Big Sky Championship tournament this May in Phoenix.
“I felt like our season had started today,” MU head coach Jason Brown said in a statement. “It felt like a fully engaged college tennis match. It was a battle on all courts, and we had our chances, but Portland is a very good team.
“It was a good game. We just had a few problems, but I feel like we’re in a good position, and we’re excited to play at Portland State.”
Montana is tied for 12th in the first round of the Red Rocks Invitational on Saturday at Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona, Arizona.
Le Griz carded a 312 in the opening 18 holes before the second round was suspended due to darkness before it could be completed. It’s a competitive 19-team field as the Grand Canyon sits atop the standings with a 294, while northern Colorado, in last place, is just 28 strokes behind with a 322.
Jessica Ponce, a sophomore at UM, is tied for 16th after shooting a 3 of 75 for her college round best. She is seven strokes behind individual leader Payton Fehringer of the Grand Canyon, who shot a 4 under 68 for a two-stroke lead.
UM’s Kylie Esh, Teigan Avery and Faith D’Ortenzio are all tied for 57th with scores of 7 of 79. Tricia Joyce, in the individual competition, had an 8 of 80, while Allison Sobol had a 12 out of 84.
It is a difficult course in terms of access to the greens and putting. This has caused problems for everyone, MU head coach Kris Nord said in a press release. The greens are really hard to hit. It was our problem and then we didn’t do well. It’s a difficult layout.
Montana closes the regular season with games against Sacramento State at 4 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday in Missoula. The Griz are 2-12 and haven’t played since March 8 because they were off last weekend.
Weber State (14-1) won his first-ever Big Sky regular season title on Saturday, beating Montana State. The Bobcats could have won the crown if they had swept away games against the Wildcats on Saturday and Sunday.