ANACONDA -- The Butte Central Maroons were looking to avenge last week's defeat to the Hamilton Broncs at the Southwestern A divisionals.
Instead they were dealt a heartbreaking exit from the Class A softball tournament, as the Broncs rallied over the final two innings for a 9-5 win, eliminating the Maroons in the semifinals of the consolation bracket.
"I thought we had them," Butte Central coach Kelci Thatcher said. "We made some mental errors and that kind of took the wind out of our sails. But they competed to the very end and have nothing to hang their heads about."
Butte Central had tallied twice in the bottom of the fifth on a Corbyn Holm double and bases loaded walk by Kassidy Criscuolo to make it 5-3 heading to the sixth.
Rachel Ringer and Shay Mohn each singled in the inning, bringing Teresa Piazzola in to try and get the final five outs.
But Kloie Nye beat out an infield hit on a hot shot to third that was bobble to bring in Ringer, then Caitlin Dillon hit a dribbler down the line that stay fair for another infield hit to score Mohn, tying the game, 5-5.
"We kind of panicked on those two balls to third," Thatcher said.
The Maroons had a chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the sixth, getting Kloie Thatcher to second with one out, but Hamilton's Sky Lopez, who entered in the fourth, got a fly out and a strikeout to end the threat.
Then Hamilton erupted in the top of the seventh.
Tayler Reynolds hit a one out double, then came home on a Ringer RBI single to make it 6-5.
After a Lauren Dolcater walk, Mohn stepped in and roped a triple to right-center, driving in both runners and scoring when a throwing error was made trying to get her at third, stretching the lead to 9-5.
Lopez then set the Maroons down in order in the bottom of the inning to secure the win, and end Central's season.
"Whether they win or lose they did it with class," Thatcher said. "They had a great season, I couldn't be more proud of this team."
Central opened the scoring in the second when Criscuolo doubled in Taylor Wahl and Shawnee Hjelt brought home Piazzola on a sacrifice fly.
Hamilton countered that in the fourth with two runs on a Ringer RBI single, then Lacey Dolcater RBI double.
The game was back and forth from there, as Hjelt added her second RBI of the game on a ground out to make it 3-2, but again Hamilton countered, tallying a single run in the fifth on a Taylor Goligoski sacrifice fly.
That set the stage for the finale two and a half innings.
With the win, Hamilton advances to the consolation finals where they will square off with Polson, who downed Libby.
Central reached the game with Hamilton by winning a pair of thrillers, 4-2 over Billings Central, and 6-2 over Laurel.
Billing Central jumped the Maroons early tallying twice to take a 2-0 lead when Maggie Meyer hit a bloop single that scored two runs.
But Central answered the second, when Holm and Wahl opened with back-to-back singles, Holm coming in a wild pitch, then Wahl scoring on a Criscuolo sacrifice fly.
From there both pitchers settled in, and Piazzola kept the Rams off the scoreboard the rest of the way, limiting them to four hits over the last six innings.
Molly Day was equal to the task, but in the sixth her defense betrayed her.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Hjelt hit a ball that eluded the second baseman and allowed Wahl and Criscuolo to score, breaking the 2-2 tie.
Against Laurel, the Maroons scored four times over the final two innings to break a 2-2 tie, eliminating the Locomotives.
The score was tied 2-2 entering the top of the sixth, with the Maroons held to just two hits at that point.
Holm, the hero in Thursday's opener, reached base with one out, advancing to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball with Wahl at the plate.
Wahl then found a hold on the left side to bring in Holm, breaking the tie.
Piazzola followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out for Criscuolo.
Criscuolo came up big, driving a triple to the wall in right to bring both runners home, and giving the Maroons some insurance at 5-2.
Piazzola was dominant on the mound for the Maroons, giving up just four hits, walking four, not allowing an earned run, and striking out five for her second complete game win in as many days.
Both teams were shut down at the plate in the early innings but Butte Central broke through in the second thanks to some help from Laurel.
With one out and runners on second and third, Criscuolo hit a bouncer back to the mound, but the Laurel pitcher threw the ball away, allowing two runners to score to make it 2-0 Central.
But a Central error in the fourth allowed the Locomotives to get back in the game.
Hailey picked up Laurel's first hit of the game to lead off the inning, after a ground out, a strikeout and a walk, Spitzer was on third when Kaylee Wommack drew a walk.
Dakota Boehler followed with a ground ball to second that was bobbled, allowing a run to score to make it 2-1, then Kallie Linse laced a single back up the middle to tie the game 2-2.