NEW HOPE —
Montana Holcombe is back — and so are the Holly Pond softball team’s chances of advancing to this year’s state tournament.
After being shelved for much of the season with a nagging injury to her throwing arm, the ace returned as a force to be reckoned with at the Class 3A, Area 14 Tournament. Holcombe led the Broncos to a title with a 2-0 no-hit shutout versus Brindlee Mountain in the championship game on Thursday, securing a fourth consecutive regional appearance for the Green and White.
The junior struck out 11 and finished 2 for 2 at the plate with a run. Holcombe’s younger sister, Kolby, was 2 for 3 with an RBI, while Taylor Rowell contributed a hit and came across for the victor’s only other run.
“It makes a huge difference,” Holly Pond coach Steve Miller said of having a healthy M. Holcombe at his disposal. “She’s a better kid than she is a pitcher, and she’s a great pitcher.”
The Broncos will have nearly an entire week to prepare for the North Regional Tournament in Huntsville, which will be held May 10-11. Miller’s squad lasted just two games at the regional level last year, so he has an idea of what kind of changes need to be made for the Green and White to avoid a similar outcome this time around.
“We’ve got to be better offensively,” he said. “We’ve got to score some runs.”
% Holly Pond 3, Brindlee Mountain 1: The Broncos opened the area tournament Wednesday the same way they ended it one day later — with a two-run win over the Lions.
M. Holcombe diced up the Brindlee Mountain lineup with 12 strikeouts in seven innings of one-hit ball and also went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Senior standout Katlyn Whitehead stroked a solo home run, Rowell was 2 for 4 with an RBI and K. Holcombe provided a hit.
% Holly Pond 7, J.B. Pennington 0: M. Holcombe and Emily Thompson combined for 11 K’s in a one-hit shutout for the Broncos’ easiest win of the two-day event.
M. Holcombe once again brought her big stick, too, finishing 4 for 4 with a double, an RBI and a run. Whitehead and Thompson were both 2 for 2, and Rowell, Adair Gilliland and Michaela Leipert accounted for one hit apiece.
% The Times' sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.