Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By Ed Moreth 

Back to the field

Young athletes compete in Plains softball tournament


Ed Moreth

A HIT – Olivia Fitchett, a Thompson Falls resident with the Montana Wildfire softball team out of Missoula, gets a single during a game Saturday in Plains against the Kalispell Emeralds.

Sports in Sanders County have been on hold for months due to COVID-19, but the pandemic didn't stop a group of girls from gathering at the Amundson Sports Complex in Plains last weekend for a day of softball competition.

Just over 70 girls on seven teams from Missoula, Kalispell and Ronan - including three girls from Sanders County - played throughout the day as a "warm-up scrimmage," according to Dan Hirning, coach of the Montana Wildfire, one of two U12 teams there. On Hirning's Missoula team was Maddy Blood of Plains and Olivia Fitchett of Thompson Falls. There were also two U10 teams and three U14 teams.

Carlie Wagoner of Plains was the only other Sanders County player involved in the near six-hour long competition, playing for the U-14 Montana Wildfire, coached by Shane Austin of Missoula. The 15-year-old Wagoner pitched in the first game, went three for three at bat, got two RBIs and struck out seven batters, said Austin. They won their first game 9-2 against the Kalispell Emeralds, but lost to the same team 6-1 in the second game. Each team was scheduled to play three games, but the practice tourney got off to a late start due to rain and some teams played only two games.

Hirning's Montana Wildfire team of nine girls played three games, all against the Kalispell Emeralds. They nabbed the first game 6-5 with Blood, the team pitcher, hitting a home run and an RBI triple. Fitchett, playing shortstop, went one for three at bat, getting walked once and scoring twice. The Emeralds claimed victory in the second game, but Montana Wildfire came back to take the final game 9-6.

Ed Moreth

IN THERE – Maddy Blood of Plains heaves in a strike against a Kalispell Emeralds batter.

The teams paid $100 to use the Wildhorse Sports Association complex, except for the two teams with Sanders County players because those players' parents spent hours cleaning, mowing and getting the fields ready, including Rose Wagoner and Holly Blood, who did most of the work, according to Hirning.

A month ago, Blood had to get the Sanders County nurse sign off on Sunday's gathering to help ensure there were no cases of the Coronavirus. The participants had to get their temperatures taken prior to the start, players had to use hand sanitizer between each inning, and the game softballs had to be sanitized between each half inning. "And we asked everybody to try and stay with the social distancing," said Blood, who is working with fellow Plains resident Cory Ovitt for the annual Wildhorse Showdown Softball Tournament, which is scheduled to take place at Amundson Sports Complex from July 31 to Aug. 2.


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