There are not too many teams that can be synonymous with the word dominant when it comes to fastpitch softball in the state of Montana. However, after this past weekend in Missoula, some may argue that the name Master Sports may have earned the right to be compared with that word.
For the fourth time in the last ten years, Master Sports of Havre has captured the Montana State Men's Fastpitch softball championship. And this time, they did it in dominant fashion, according to team captain Mike Sherrill.
"This was as dominant as a state tournament as I have ever been a part of," Sherrill said. "Ryan (Divish) shut everyone down and the whole team hit the ball and played good defense.
"It almost seemed to easy the way we won this tournament," Sherrill added. "But when you have everything click like it did this weekend, you're going to win state championships."
This was the fourth title for the Master Sports logo since 1994. MS also won state championships in 1998 and 2000.
And despite Sherrill's years of experience, he said that the pitching performance that Divish put up over the course of three games will go down in history.
"Ryan pitched as well as anyone I have ever seen at the state tournament level," Sherrill said. "He was simply dominant and it was as great a performance as I can ever recall."
Master Sports opened the tournament on Saturday afternoon with an 8-4 win over Missoula's Silver Dollar. Andy Smith earned the victory pitching all seven innings to get the win. Shortstop Kyle Sheppard went 3-3 with two RBIs to lead the offensive attack.
Saturday night Master Sports continued to stay hot as they downed Stadium Club of Billings 8-0 in six innings. Divish hurled a four-hitter while Sheppard added two more hits and a pair of RBIs.
On Sunday morning, Master Sports then dispatched the Elbow Room of Missoula in the semifinals 5-0. Divish took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ended the contest with a one-hit shutout. He also starred at the plate as he went 4-4 with three RBIs. Andy Smith, Jordan Anderson, and Sherrill also had two hits a piece.
The Elbow Room bounced back to defeat the Black Eagle Bolts of Great Falls, 5-4, to get to the title game.
With the semifinal win, MS would have had to be beaten twice to lose the state title, but the if-necessary game would never be needed.
Master Sports again took care of the Missoula team 4-0 to earn the state title. For Divish it was his third straight shutout. Lance Reesor, Rob Watson and Smith all chipped in with two hits apiece in the tournament's final game.
"It was just one of those weekends when the whole team gelled," Sherrill said. "Divish was dominant and our hitters gave him runs to work with."
"The thing that makes this so special is that every player on the team had a major moment in this tournament," Sherrill added. "Every guy on this team did something in this tournament that contributed to our success and that is something that is really fun to be a part of."
Master Sports has played in the state title game in seven of the last nine years.
Master Sports, will now head to the NAFA National Fastpitch tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on August 14. The Montana state championship also qualifies them for the ASA National tournament in late August in College Station, Texas. Last year, MS went 2-2 at the ASA Class C National tournament in Sacramento, California.