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School: Hamilton

Year: Junior

Sport: Softball

Q: Last Saturday, Hamilton capped a 23-3 season by beating Billings Central 5-0 to claim the state Class A title. Can you compare that feeling with anything else that has happened in your athletic career?

A: No. It was awesome. I just kept saying 'We won, we won.' I kept telling everyone 'We won.' There were a lot of tears.

Q: Hamilton entered the 2002 state tournament undefeated, but fell short of winning it all. How much did that drive your team in the off-season to get back and win state?

A: I think that was a lot of it. We were out to get revenge so to speak. We had unfinished business that we wanted to take care of.

Q: You had seven seniors on your team - Carly Baer, Crystal Bissett, Katie Boucher, Sarah Brough, Korrie Gover, Cheyanne Marcy and Jenna McCartney. How great was it to send them out with a state title?

A: It was great since we'd worked so hard for it for so long. It was just a great feeling. We were all really close and I think that helped us to win it.

Q: When you hear your pitching stats from the season read back to you - 22-3 record, 264 strikeouts, 17 walks, 14 earned runs, five no-hitters, 14 shutouts, a 0.61 ERA - what do you think?

A: Wow. I really didn't try to keep track of my stats during the regular season. Looking back, I improved a lot from last year. I pitched all summer for the ASA team.

Q: In the championship game against Billings Central, the Rams loaded the bases with no outs. You kept your poise and ended up getting out of the inning by striking out the side. How important is it to remain calm on the mound in situations like that?

A: As a pitcher, you have to be really, really mentally strong and coach taught me that. You can't get down on yourself. You have to help lead the team. If I would have gotten down on myself with the bases loaded, it might not have ended this way. Ever since one game in Polson where I kind of lost my cool, I've been really, really mentally strong and have not let anything get to me and I've pitched the best I can.

Q: Bonus: I heard a couple of weeks ago your dad called you and you told him you were "playing in the mud." What's the story behind that?

A: Well, I was at practice and it rained a lot. Me and Jenna McCartney and Korrie Gover wanted to go have some fun, so we drove through the puddles. When my dad saw my car (a red 2000 Ford Mustang) in the garage, he wasn't too happy. It's usually bright red and you couldn't tell what color it was. My mom actually went and washed it. My parents laughed because they thought I was "playing in the mud.''

Q: Championship bonus. I'm told you're going to be starting a summer job at the movie theater. What else do you have planned this summer?

A: I'm going to work nights, so it's nice. I'm going to play for the Hamilton ASA team and we're going to four tournaments. I might play with the Florence team and go to regionals and nationals. (Some girls from the team) and I go to (Lake Como) every day. Me and Jenna McCartney just bought this little pool that we're going to float in. It's pretty big, about 12-feet wide. It's set up in my basement right now.

Mildenberger's picks

Movie: Dumb and Dumber.

Book: I don't read.

Class: Math.

Restaurant: Olive Garden.

CD: Shania Twain's "Up". The pop version.

- Jon Kasper, Missoulian

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