OGDEN – It just wasn't meant to be this time.
Despite fighting their way back into the Big Sky Conference championship game, the Weber State University softball team came up just a few runs short, falling 9-5 to Montana on Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Softball Complex.
Montana (35-22), which won a controversial 10-inning marathon against the Wildcats on Friday, used a seven-run fourth inning to rally from a 2-1 deficit and claim its first Big Sky Conference softball title.
Weber State (33-19-1) rebounded from the Friday loss to capture an 8-6 win over Idaho State in Saturday's one-loss bracket finale, and staked out a 2-1 lead after three innings, but simply ran out of gas as the Grizzlies surged ahead.
The Wildcats, by virtue of winning the 2017 Big Sky Conference regular season title, will receive the league's automatic bid to the National Invitational Softball Championship. Opponent, site, time, and dates will be announced by the NISC following Saturday's 8 p.m. NCAA selection show.
In Saturday morning's one-loss bracket final with Idaho State, the Wildcats came out firing, rolling out to a 7-1 lead, and taking an 8-3 advantage into the seventh before the Bengals rallied to cut it to 8-6 before Weber State forced a groundout to end the game.
Freshman right fielder Takesha Saltern was 3-for-5 with a run scored and her 22nd stolen base of the season in the game, while senior first baseman Sara Hingsberger had two hits, including a double, and two RBI.
Against Montana, Saltern also had a hot bat, going 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while senior designated player Mackenzi Corta was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Montana took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Delene Colburn.
Saltern led off the third with her ninth triple of the season, extending her Weber State single-season and career record, and scored on an error by Montana's catcher to tie the game at 1-1. Corta hit a two-out RBI single to score Hingsberger and give Weber State a 2-1 lead.
After Montana's big fourth inning, the Wildcats pulled a run back in the fifth on an RBI single from Riana Splinter, and but it to 9-5 in the sixth on an RBI double from freshman shortstop Sydney White and Landi Hawker's RBI fielder's choice, but that would be as close as Weber State would come.