When invitations were sent out to All-State players to attend the 9th Annual Veterans Memorial Softball Classic, Camden Susott was not on the list of recipients.
Susott, a standout pitcher with Huntley Project, joined Billings West after her sophomore year but did not receive All-State honors last season after helping the Golden Bears earn a second-place finish in the State Class AA tournament .
But Susott received a late invite after another player dropped out and didn’t pass up the opportunity. She had one of the biggest wins of the tournament in Saturday’s championship game, when she helped Navy recover from a 10-run deficit and defeat Army 18-14 in a wild final at the Belgrade softball complex.
“I played last year, so I was really hoping to play again,” Susott said. “It feels good because I just transitioned from (Grade) B to Double-A, so I knew this year was going to be a bigger challenge (to get All-State honors), and it was .”
Susott hit a solo home run in the first and then laced up a 3-run home run at the bottom of the fifth to reduce the deficit to 12-7. She then added a two-run single with bases loaded in the sixth to draw Navy within one run 14-13.
“I was kind of in a slump,” Susott, who finished 3 for 3, said of her second homer. “I kind of wanted to get everyone rolling, so I was like line drive, get on, go.”
Navy struggled for an unlikely win en route to 10 runs in the sixth after falling 11-1 and going into the bottom of the third.
When asked if she thought the team could win the game despite being so far behind, Susott replied, “No.”
But she was quick to add, “We thought we were going to lose and we kept saying, ‘Game two, game two.’ I said guys, ‘I did the math, we’ve got four attacks left, we’re eight points down and that’s two points an inning. So let’s just do it.’ And we did it.”
Had Army won, a second championship game would have been forced since Navy was yet to lose in the tournament. That seemed to be the case early on, led by Butte Central graduate Sofee Thatcher.
Thatcher made a great midfield jump catch in the first and hit a 2-run home run in the third, followed by a solo shot in the fourth to give the Army a 12-4 lead.
It was the third home run of the tournament for Thatcher, who finished the championship game with three RBIs 3-for-4.
“I’m pretty happy with my performance this weekend,” said Thatcher. “I’ve been struggling for the past few weeks so it felt really good to come back and do that.”
Army went into the bottom of the sixth with a 14-8 lead. But after two critical errors, a batter and two walks from Columbia Falls pitcher Sydney Mann, who had replaced Florence-Carlton’s Kylie Kovatch in the circle, Thatcher was called from the center to try and put out the fire.
Navy scored eight more runs before Army got out of the inning.
“It hurt a bit, I don’t want to lie. And I haven’t pitched since I don’t know when, and I got thrown in the pitch, which is fine,” Thatcher said. “I wish it had obviously gone our way, but it happens, it’s part of the game.”
Despite the loss, Thatcher was beaming after posing for photos with players from both teams.
“It was amazing. The girls I played with were amazing. They were so much fun,” she said. “They were all amazing, super fun and just an opportunity to play for the veterans and everyone else, was just great.”
Army finished with a 4-2 record, both coming losses against Navy. The team defeated the Coast Guard 7-5 in their opening game on Friday before losing to Navy 6-2.
On Saturday, the Army defeated the Air Force 8-0, 6-4 before holding off the Marines 6-2 to reach the title game.
Navy defeated Army twice, knocking out the Marines 10-0 en route to claiming the tournament crown. The Marines finished third with a 1-2 record.
Belgrade’s Tayler Thomas was 3 for 3 with 2-run homers and three RBIs as he helped the Marines defeat the Air Force 9-8 in the team’s tournament opener.
Air Force, coached by Belgrade’s Joey Roberts, finished fourth with a 2-3 record, while Coast Guard finished 3-0 over the weekend.
Tournament Notes: Sydney Mann of Columbia Falls won the home derby with a total of 8 over three rounds… Kasidy Yeoman of Florence-Carlton won the Catcher’s Pop to Pop by a time of 1.82 seconds… Anna Cockhill of Helena Capital won the base running contest at 5 .65 seconds….Florence-Carlton’s Kylie Kovatch recorded a tournament high with 24 strike outs in 20 innings…Butte Central’s Sofee Thatcher had the best tournament performance for homers (3) and ties for hits (7).
9th Annual Veterans Memorial Softball Classic
(at the Belgrade softball complex)
Air Force 9, Coast Guard 4
Air Force 11, Coast Guard 9
Navy 18, Army 14, Championship
Marines 000 020 0 – 2 7 1
Army 015 000 0 – 6 5 2
Taylor Thomas, Kennedy Venner (3). Madison Moultry, Kylie Kocatch (4).
MARINES (1-2) – Cassidy Bagnell 1-2, Haley Wolsky 1-3, Isabelle Adams 0-2, Thomas 0-2, Abby Faulhaber 1-2, Maggie Bender 1-2, Grace Hood 1-2 (HR) , Lizzi Haney 0-2, Marissa Taylor 0-2, Venner 1-2, Makenna Burke 0-2, Aubrey Nedens 1-2, Brynn Notbohm 0-2.
ARMY (4-1) – Sarah Faulk 1-2 (2B), Sydney Mann 0-2, Belle Surginer 0-2, Sofee Thatcher 1-2, Izabelle Evans 0-2, Kovatch 0-2, Madison Moultray 1-1 , Ashlinn Mullaney 0-2, Mckenna Hanson 1-2 (2B), Ashley Wik 1-2, GG Hastings 0-2, Juna Ashby 0-1, Madison Elliott 0-1.
Army 074 01 2 0 – 14 15 6
Navy Blue 102 14(10) x – 18 16 3
Kylie Kovatch, Sydney Mann (6), Sofee Thatcher (6). Camden Susott, Ella Crookson (4), Sadie Smith (7).
ARMY (4-2) – Sarah Faulk 0-4, Man 1-4, Belle Surginer 1-4, Thatcher 3-4 (2 HR), Izabel Evans 1-4, Kovatch 1-3, Ashley Wik 2-3, Ashlinn Mullaney 2-3 (2B), Mckenna Hanson 2-2, GG Hastings 2-2 (HR), Juna Ashby 0-2, Madison Elliott 0-2.
NAVY (4-0) – Kassidy Yeoman 2-3 (2B), Hayleigh Smith 1-2, Susott 2-3 (2 HR), Isabella Ereaux 1-4 (2B), Payton Mallett 2-4, S Smith 1 -4, Ava Malone 2-4, Kolbi Wood 2-4, Avery Carlson 2-3, Kendall Klemp 0-2, Crookston 0-3, Alexis Godin 1-2.