HS Softball: Fergus County brings Cowgirls season to a close

SIDNEY — Fergus County High School of Lewiston ended the best-ever season for the Custer County District High School girls softball team.

The Cowgirls, qualifying for the fourth straight year, went 1-2 in the 2017 State Class A Softball Tournament, losing 5-2 to Fergus County on Friday afternoon in a game that featured strong pitching by both teams in all but two innings.

Chris Carpenter struck out 12, walked none and gave up only four hits. She got more than enough backing in the first inning when the Golden Eagles scored all five of their runs, two of which were unearned, against starter Arena Porter.

The Eagles had five hits in the first inning, and three of the runs scoring on a bases-loaded double by  Val Kolstad. Carpenter blanked the Cowgirls until surrendering two runs in the sixth, both scoring on a double by Madi Hill, who had two hits. Notching one hit each were Alexa Kappel, who pitched the final six scoreless innings, and Jenna Swope.

When the rally ended and the Cowgirls were blanked in the seventh, it marked the end of the season at 13-9-1.

“The season turned out really well,” CCDHS coach Murrey Selk said. “That’s the most wins we’ve ever had; we won the Divisional for the first time. … All in all, it was a great season.”

Earlier Friday, the  Cowgirls walked away with a convincing 8-2 victory over divisional foe Dawson County High School of Glendive. It followed an 11-4 loss to Columbia Falls in a game that was resumed at 8 a.m. Friday after being postponed due to darkness on Thursday. 

Glendive grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Cheyenne Ryan singled to center field to score Carrie Nagle from third base. Glendive threatened to swell its lead with runners on second and third and no outs, but the Cowgirls regrouped and retired the next three batters to end the inning. 

Custer County took control in the bottom of the first when Hill cracked a double to center field, scoring Kappel and Jenna Swope for a 2-1 lead. 

The Cowgirls added three more runs in the second inning, including an RBI hit by Tori Ogolin, to go up 5-1.

The Cowgirls were retired 1-2-3 in the third and fourth innings before improving their advantage to 8-1 against the team that beat CCDHS twice in the regular season before bowing twice by wide margins in the postseason.

Ogolin singled to start a three-run rally in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run single by Hope Dittus.

Nagle smacked an RBI-single with two outs in the top of the sixth for the game’s final run.

Hill led the Cowgirls with two hits. Kappel, Ogolin, Dittus and McKenzie Taylor also recorded hits. Hill notched three RBI, Dittus had two and Kappel one. 

Ogolin pitched 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven. Kappel recorded the final four outs, striking out two and not allowing a hit.

“I thought Tori stepped up and found the zone …  and Lexi came in and closed well. Our defense did a good job of having their back,” Selk said, adding that the early start Friday took its toll.

“It was definitely tough, but that’s just the way it goes. We just have a longer road to go now,” Selk said after the Dawson game.

The road was blocked by Fergus and now Selk will say goodbye to six graduates — Ogolin, Swope, Dittus, Kylee Licht, Sarah Moore and Hill.

“We’re losing six seniors, all starters,” Selk said,“but there are younger girls ready to step in and take over.”     

(Contact Abe Winter at starcity@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)