POLSON — After the cancelled 2020 softball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic all the state softball teams aimed to get back on the track to normalcy and pursue state championships in the respective classifications. But in the end only four teams stand on the championship mountain top. On top of the Class A mountain when the 2021 seasonal dust settled were the Polson Pirates. Among the Pirates team were five seniors who, after last year’s non-season, this one would be their last chance to prove their metal on the diamond.
The Northwest A Conference Champion Pirates entered the State A Tournament with a 19-1-1 record. Among their regular season victories was a victory over Frenchtown Broncs, the Southwest A champion, and the team they would top 9-3 in the championship game of the State A Tournament in Butte.
The 2021 State A Tournament victory for the perennial softball heavyweights was their eighth state championship, and the first since 2012. All of the previous championships came under legendary coach Larry Smith, who coached the Polson team for 31 years until his retirement in 2018. Smith, who was inducted into the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017, recently had the Polson softball field named after him.
Upon Smith’s retirement Polson Pirate assistant coach Jami Hanson was tabbed to be the head coach. His assistant coaches are Juan Perez and Jaelin Moldenhauer.
The Pirates began the State A Tournament with a 9-3 victory over the Corvallis Blue Devils of the Southwest A Conference on Thursday, May 27, at Stodden Park Fields in Butte. They followed that up with a nail-biting 5-4 victory over Lewiston on Friday. The Pirates began Championship Saturday, May 29 with another nail-biter, an extra innings 1-0 victory over Laurel.
The Laurel victory put the Pirates in the championship game against the Frenchtown Broncs. In order to win the State Class A Championship, the Broncs would have to beat the Pirates twice. However, the Pirates would have none of that and slammed that door with a 9-3 victory and another softball championship trophy for the display case, the first under the guidance of coach Jami Hanson, who no doubt used a big chunk of the guidance he got under the tutelage Larry Smith.
They say basketball is king and queen in Montana Indian Country but in the case of Polson there were several tribal affiliated players who shined a glowing light on softball.
Among the State Class A Champions Pirates, they were coach Juan Perez (Klamath/Modoc), and players Mossy Kauley (Northern Arapaho), SaVanna Carpentier (Salish), Turquoise Pierre (Kootenai), Jaivin Bad Bear (Crow), and Josie Caye (Kootenai).
The State A Championship was a great finale for the five graduating seniors — SaVanna Carpentier, Josie Caye, Mossy Kauley, Lexy Orien and Kobbey Smith — on the Pirates team.
It was also a great season finale for the rest of the team, who will, no doubt, have a target on their backs next season but a State A Championship trophy adds to their bring-it-on confidence.
The 2021 State Class A Championship Team
Kobbey Smith, Josie Caye, Mossy Kauley, Lexy Orien, SaVanna CarpentierAnna Vert, Jaivin Bad Bear, Turquiose Pierre, Katelyne Druyvestein, Reegan Stinger, Ashlynn DePoe, Tyneesha Brown, Ansley Nordberg, Caitlyn Ward, Julia Barnard, Nikki Kendall, Mckenna Hanson, Alexis Johnson, Kailey Smith, and Avery Starr.