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FRENCHTOWN — Frenchtown’s Cassidy Moen made the varsity softball team last spring but wasn’t playing much early on because of a loaded returning senior class.

So the then-junior asked Broncs coach Eli Field to do something that’s largely been an anomaly in his time leading one of the perennial contenders in the state.

“I asked if I could move down to JV,” Moen said after she continued her breakout season by helping the Broncs earn a 16-4 win over Anaconda on Friday at the Frenchtown Invitational.

“It was nerve-wracking to ask, but I was proud of myself for that. I got the time I needed to figure myself out. I think that says a lot more than wanting to be on varsity and not play just to say I’m on varsity. You don’t want to be the one that plays down, but it was really important, and I’m glad I made that decision.”

Moen’s extra work playing both varsity and junior varsity paid off for the Broncs, who are 7-3 despite returning just one starter. She’s been a revelation at the plate, leading the team in batting average through 10 games, Field said. Moen is hitting .464 (13 for 28) with 19 RBIs, 14 runs scored and eight walks compared to three strikeouts, according to GameChanger.

Batting in the No. 5 spot, Moen hit her team-leading sixth home run with a solo shot to right-center field against Anaconda, making her one of four Broncs with two RBIs in the win. Her six home runs are double her closest teammate and nearly half of Frenchtown’s 14.

“She’s just so much more comfortable and confident than she was last year,” Field said. “She stepped up at the state tournament in the third-place game when we pinch-hit her, and she hit a double that drove in two runs in our big comeback win. That was the moment like, ‘Oh, wow.’

“This year, she hits a grand slam to win a game in Corvallis. She just steps up, and it doesn’t surprise me now that she hits the ball hard and the right direction.”

The “biggest scare” for Moen as a varsity starter was that she had to learn a new position. She played first base her first three years before finding out late last season that she’d be moving to right field, so she spent the summer working in the outfield.

Moen wasn’t thrilled with the move at first, but she’s come to enjoy it and has been more than a stopgap player. She played error-free softball the first eight games, stayed positive after her first error and bounced back with a clean day against Anaconda.

It’s that perseverance and confidence in herself that Field has seen blossom in Moen.

“As a freshman, we had a conversation with her where we said we’re going to give you a year because we see some promise but we don’t know exactly where this is going to go,” Field recalled. “She was kind of a bubble kid, and now she’s a star. That’s what makes me happy is she’s self-made. She’s stayed with it. She’s worked. Her attitude is phenomenal. When you see a kid like that have success, it just makes you feel good.”

Moen, who grew up attending Frenchtown games and looking up to the players, didn’t remember the conversation but acknowledged that her level of play when she entered the program as a freshman is nowhere close to where it is as a senior.

“That’s kind of crazy to think about that I could have not been here because I love it so much and it’s been so much fun,” Moen said. “It’s funny to hear that, but a lot has changed.”

For Moen, her junior varsity days are over as she’s sewn up a starting varsity spot. But her first season as a starter will also be her last, so she’s making sure to savor the ride.

“This season has gone really well,” Moen said. “I think that a lot of it has to do with really not thinking about the wins and losses but instead just having fun and being relaxed.

“My mindset is just that this is my senior year and I have four of my best friends by my side and that I’m going to do what I can do to make their last year just as good as I can. It really hasn’t been about me. It’s kind of been for everybody else.”

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Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at Frank.Gogola@406mtsports.com.

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