The Montana softball team signed four players Wednesday when the NCAA's early signing period began for all sports except football.
The Grizzlies' haul includes two in-state standouts: Missoula Sentinel infielder Grace Hardy and Kalispell Glacier catcher Kynzie Mohl. They also inked pitcher Dana Butterfield of Hillsboro, Oregon, and outfielder Presley Jantzi of Albany, Oregon.
“I’m excited for this class,” fourth-year Griz coach Melanie Meuchel said in a news release. “It not only fills some needs and adds some depth, but it’s a group that has some great skill.
“You’re always trying to make the program better by bringing in athletes who will raise their game and raise the game of our athletes in the program. This group is competitive and skilled, and they are excellent students. They exemplify everything that we look for.”
Hardy and Mohl are in line to one day increase the number of Montana-born players to take the field for the Griz, which is currently at 10 since the program was launched in 2015.
“As we work through it, we’re not checking off boxes of where a recruit is from,” Meuchel said.
“We’re checking off boxes that they are meeting what we want in a Griz softball student-athlete, that they meet the skill set and have the competitiveness, the grit and the determination, and that they academically fit the university and we fit their projected path as well.
“I’m glad we’ll be signing two Montana kids in this class. They’ll add to our program with their skill sets. The state is definitely adding depth to this sport. I’m thankful we could grab two of the best.”
Hardy, who also has experience as a pitcher, was last seen batting .510 as a sophomore for the Spartans, a season cut short by injury prior to the state tournament. Before that, she was seen at just about every camp the program has offered.
In two years with the Wolfpack, Mohl has batted .425, with 57 hits and 43 RBIs. Twenty-one of her hits have gone for extra bases, 11 of which were home runs.
The addition of Butterfield will give Montana a pitcher in its three most recent classes, following Ashley Ward and Allie Brock.
Butterfield was a second-team all-state selection in Oregon as a sophomore, when she went 20-3 for Glencoe High with a 1.43 ERA and 254 strikeouts in 151 2/3 innings pitched.
She also was named the Pacific Conference Pitcher of the Year as the Crimson Tide won the league title.
Butterfield also plays for the Northwest Bullets. Her age-group club team won a Premier Girls Fastpitch national championship in Irvine, California, in August 2018.
Jantzi, a senior at West Albany High, also has been a standout in Oregon, earning first-team all-state honors as a sophomore after being named honorable mention all-state as a freshman. She, too, plays for the Northwest Bullets.
Jantzi made The Oregonian’s list of the state’s best hitters at the end of her sophomore year, when she was hitting .592, with three home runs and an on-base percentage of .683.