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Billings Senior, Helena Capital winning streaks snapped at East-West softball tourney

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GREAT FALLS — Two long winning streaks were snapped Saturday afternoon as the inaugural Class AA East-West Crossover softball tournament was played at breezy Multi-Sports Complex.

Billings Senior entered the day with a 13-game winning skein, but that was stopped in the tourney opener as Helena Capital earned a 2-0 victory.

Then Capital’s own nine-game winning streak was halted by Billings West, which rolled to a 9-2 victory.

West, which edged Missoula Sentinel 12-10 in its first game of the day, emerged with the state’s best overall record as the Bears moved to 12-1. Senior, which lost 13-1 to Missoula Sentinel in the late game, dropped to 13-2. Capital ended the day with a 9-3 mark, while Sentinel is 9-5.

In the marquee contest of the day — matching Eastern AA Senior No. 1 vs. Western AA No. 1 Capital — Bruins right-hander Nyeala Herndon was dominant, allowing just one base hit. She struck out 11 and issued only two walks for coach Mike Miller.

Senior didn’t use star pitcher Kennedy Venner against Capital, but freshman right-hander Riley Tryan was outstanding, giving up only two runs.

Herndon didn’t pitch in the nightcap against West, which got an inside-the-park homer from Mya Boos. Camden Susott hurled effectively for coach Preston Sanders’Bears.

In the most exciting game of the afternoon, West sophomore Lileigh Nieto belted a two-run walkoff homer against Sentinel in the seventh inning to give the Bears a 12-10 victory. It was the third HR of the game for West, which is on pace to set a new state record for home runs in a season.

In the unofficial tournament rivalry, Eastern division schools won eight games and lost seven, and there was one tie. Great Falls CMR tied Helena High 1-1 in their opener.

In other contests, Belgrade swept Butte 10-0 and Helena 7-2; CMR trounced Butte 15-0; Billings Skyview split, beating Missoula Big Sky 21-10 and losing 9-4 to Kalispell Glacier; the Glacier Wolfpack also beat Great Falls High 3-1. The GFH Bison also fell 13-11 against Big Sky.

Bozeman downed Flathead 6-1 and Missoula Hellgate 8-7. Gallatin topped Hellgate 9-7 but fell 12-10 against Flathead.

None of the results will count in tiebreaker rules to determine the teams that qualify for the State AA Tournament. The top six teams from each division will advance to the state meet in Missoula at the end of May.

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