The Montana softball team stumbles into the Big Sky Conference game after being swept home for the first time in program history in a run of three games.
The Griz (6-18) suffered that sweep on Sunday with a 5-2 loss against Utah Valley after dropping a doubleheader on UVU on Saturday (11-11). That gave them a 1-5 score in their first home score since April 2019, going 1-2 against Seattle on Thursday on Friday, having been at home 66-25 prior to this season.
I feel like we saw some things in the first six weeks that we definitely need to work on, and we saw some things that we liked. Now it’s in the process of compiling, UM head coach Melanie Meuchel said in a press release. The non-conference is when you learn a lot about your team but don’t fully define who you are at the time. There is still a lot of season ahead.
UM collected 11 basehits after being held out of eight in two games on Saturday, but struggled to bring in those baserunners, as it stranded 11 on base against UVU ace-pitcher Devyn Cretz. Montana’s ace-pitcher, Tristin Achenbach, took the loss and fell to 5-8, giving up nine hits, walking seven and striking out seven batters, while giving up five earned runs in seven innings.
Maygen McGrath gave the Griz a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI double. UM held the lead until Achenbach handed in an RBI-single in the third inning and a three-run home run in the fourth. The Griz started to claw back with an RBI double by McKenna Tjaden in the fifth inning, but UVU answered with a solo-homerun in the sixth for the last run of the game.
Next up for Montana is the start of the Big Sky schedule. The Griz will travel to Portland State to play a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.
There was a lot of talk today about execution, being the one that would come up when that opportunity presents itself, and I didn’t feel like we were doing that today, Meuchel said. It is able to finish innings, be it offensive or defensive. We certainly have some skills. We certainly have a number of options for doing certain things. We have to put the net together.
Tennis for men
Montana opened its Big Sky Conference schedule on Sunday with a 6-1 loss at Portland State.
Junior Oisin Shaffrey took the lone win for the Griz (3-8 overall, 0-1 BSC) with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Tommy Edwards on track two to save Portland State’s first win to the school to become. all-time leader in singles wins. Shaffrey, from Ireland, improved to 5-5 and 27-15 in his career this season, including 10-3 in Big Sky.
UM’s Milo Benn and Moritz Stoeger each forced a third set in singles, but both lost. The Griz dropped two doubles matches to start the day, giving PSU the doubles point.
“We seem to be consistently finding ways to lose close matches, and as a coach I have to find ways to help us reach our potential,” UM head coach Jason Brown said in a press release. “Portland State is good, but we had our chances. We came out slowly in the doubles, then we lost a two point point here and a momentum switch there in the singles.”
Portland State improved to 3-0 in Big Sky’s game, 7-5 overall. The conference championship tournament is in Phoenix in May.
“I still believe in this team,” said Brown. “I think we will be able to win the Big Sky, we just have to play to our potential, and with three more conference games at home, I think we will determine our own destiny.”
Montana finished 17th of the 19 teams at the Red Rocks Invitational on Sunday at Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona, Arizona, taking a 953 with scores of 312, 325 and 316 in the three rounds.
Jessica Ponce (75-81-77) finished in 43rd place at 17-over and became UM’s best for the second time in two tournaments this spring. Faith DOrtenzio (79-84-75) and Kylie Esh (79-78-81) were in 64th place, 22-over. Teigan Avery (79-82-83) was tied for 81st to 28-over. Tricia Joyce (80-81-89) finished in 95th place 34-over while competing individually in the competition. Allison Sobol (84-87-87) finished 103rd out of 42.
It’s a tough course, but I didn’t feel like we were playing where we should, UM head coach Kris Nord said in a press release. We could have shot better, we just didn’t put.
I would equate it with basketball, not being able to shoot. We worked hard and hit the ball well, but we couldn’t make putts. It was frustrating about that end of things. Too many three-putts.
Gonzaga and Grand Canyon tied for first place with a total of 884. Grand Canyons Payton Fehringer (68-73-67) won the individual crown at 8-under.
Montana suffered a 3-1 defeat to Sacramento State on Sunday in Missoula, then dropped to 2-13 en route to the regular season finals.
The Griz won the first set 25-19, but then dropped the next three sets with scores of 25-21, 25-20, 25-23. They hit only .147, while the Hornets hit .202 while collecting more aces, 56-39, and blocks, 13-11, than UM.
The teams will resit on Monday at 7 p.m. in Missoula.