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Duford, Polson eyeing 4th straight state title

By Vince Bagby, Sports Director, vbagby@keci.com
Published On: May 15 2013 10:42:38 PM MDT
Updated On: May 17 2013 07:53:43 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

"Every team I've had here in the last dozen years expects to win it all," says Polson head coach Larry Smith.

Now winning the state title every single season seems like an impossible goal for most programs but for the softball team in Polson it really is a way of life.

They've won seven of the past 12 state titles and with only one loss on the season so far this year they are looking for number eight.

"I knew we'd be solid and right in there but I didn't think we'd be quite where we are at this point so I'm satisfied with that," said Smith.

"I am actually really confident in how the season has been going," added senior pitcher Shalaina Duford.  "Honestly I didn't think that we would be this strong as we are this year."

Of course every state championship fells good but this team has an even bigger goal in mind.  They're going for a 4th straight state title, something no softball team in Montana has ever accomplished.

"I think about it all the time," admits Duford.  "Three state titles is pretty awesome but four would be unimaginable for me but I have a good feeling that we can do it this year."

"It's obviously on our minds," agreed senior centerfielder Heidi Rausch.  "This is my last year playing softball, I decided not to play at the next level, so to end my career with a 4th state championship I couldn't imagine it a better way."

Leading the way for that state title charge this year will be senior pitcher Shalaina Duford as she has for the past three.  Not only has she been the starting pitcher for Polson all four years but she's also thrown every single pitch in each of those state tournaments.

"Shay is our nucleus of this team and he she has been," explained Smith.

"I always try to be the best example that I can be," said Duford.  "I don't tell people what to do but I make sure to motivate them and give them the credit that is due for them."

"Shay is a competitor.  She wants that win," said Rausch.  "She is completely dedicated and it's awesome knowing that she is going to be out here putting forth her best effort and she has that mindset to just get better and better and I think that's honestly her best quality.  She's going to make herself a good pitcher whether she looks like one or not."

Next year Duford will be taking her talents to Spokane Falls.  But for the rest of this spring she and her teammates have their sights set on making history next week at the Class 'A' state tournament in Belgrade.