ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Montana and Seattle softball teams have made a habit of taking their games down to the very end the last two seasons.
The team with the final at-bat tends to win in walk-off fashion. And Saturday was no different on the second day of the Red Desert Classic.
After both teams scored twice in the eighth, the Redhawks added the winner in the ninth to pull out a 6-5 victory, matching the Grizzlies’ 7-6, eight-inning win Friday when Montana was the home team and had the final at-bat.
Montana matched a season high with 11 hits but this one will be remembered for what could have been. The Grizzlies left a season-high 14 runners on base, ending innings with the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth and three other times stranding two runners.
“Offensively we’re starting to come around. We’re getting people on, but we still have innings when we leave too many runners on,” UM coach Melanie Meuchel said.
“We’re starting to get the opportunities. Now it’s the grind of trying to find a way to get them in. We’re showing signs here and there, but we’re still working toward completely finishing a game. We’re close to getting there.”
Seattle struck first, getting a solo home run from Madison Cathcart in the bottom of the first. It was her first of two on the day, the first not nearly as dramatic as the second.
After Delene Colburn drew a two-out walk in the top of the third, Ashlyn Lyons gave Montana a 2-1 lead when she popped her second career home run.
Seattle reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the third, scoring twice on a pair of RBI singles. Montana answered in the fourth, pulling even at 3-3 on a MaKenna McGill single.
The Grizzlies loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth but failed to take the lead. They did the same in the sixth, putting three runners on with two outs. It was a fly-out in the fourth and a ground-out in the sixth that ended those threats.
With a runner placed on second to start each half inning beginning in the eighth, Montana used an infield error to go up 4-3 and a sacrifice fly by Jessica McAlister to make it 5-3. The sacrifice fly was the only run the Grizzlies managed after loading the bases with one out.
Montana’s two-run cushion didn’t last long. Cathcart hit the first pitch of the bottom of the eighth out of the park to make it 5-5.
After Montana failed to bring in pinch runner Lexi Knauss from third with one out in the ninth, Seattle played it perfectly to end it in the bottom half.
The runner at second was sacrificed to third. The next batter drove her in with a single, tagging Maddy Stensby with the loss and giving Montana its ninth one-run decision of the season in 17 games.
Stensby allowed nine hits while striking out five.
“She had a good outing. She threw well,” said Meuchel. “She kept them off balance when she needed to, and we made some good defensive plays behind her. She was in control. She had a great mound presence.”
Lyons finished 3 for 4, with McGill (2 for 5) and Madison Saacke (2 for 5) also having multiple-hit games.