Amber Countryman

Helena High's Amber Countryman rounds third base in a win over Missoula Hellgate on Tuesday at Mihelish Field. She notched seven hits and seven RBI in the two-game sweep. 

Amber Countryman's focus has always been softball and in her final regular season home games at Mihelish Field Tuesday, the Helena High senior went off for seven hits in eight at-bats.

One of those hits was a home run in the first inning as the Bengals roared out to a 9-1 lead over the Knights. Countryman also added a ground-rule double and another hit in a 3-for-4 performance that included three RBI in a 19-1 win for the Bengals, which was the first of two wins on senior day. Helena swept Hellgate with a 26-0 win in game two. 

"It felt really good," Countryman said of her fifth home run in 2021. "It was really nice to just relax and have fun." 

When you are raking it as well as Countryman is right now, it'd be hard not to be relaxed. Her home run against Hellgate was her fifth of the season (third in the last week) and the 13th-consecutive game that saw her get at least one hit.

The Bengals, who improved to 9-6 on the season in the win, also got three hits from Faith Manibusan, who pitched in with three hits and an RBI. Brooke Richardson notched two hits, while Brooke Ark, Kylee Wetzel, Reegan Walsh and Cassie Smith had one hit each. Alyssa Koenig got the win for Helena on the mound after striking out five and allowing just one run on two hits.

In the second game, Countryman, who is heading to Miles Community College to play softball, added three more hits and was 3-for-3 with three RBI. 

"It's been a lot of fun," she said of her senior season. "I feel like I am getting back into the groove of things, knocking off the rust and that's been nice, especially hanging out with the other girls. I'm just trying to soak up every moment and have fun."

Countryman is certainly enjoying herself at the plate, hitting a team-leading .603 on the season and getting on-base at a .639 clip, which also leads the team among players with at least 10 at bats. The senior also leads Helena in RBI (22) and runs scored (27) while ranking second in home runs (5), which explains why her career will continue beyond this season in Miles City as a catcher. 

"I'm really excited," she said. "It's going to be a fun, new experience." 

On top of Countryman's three hits in its 26-0 win, Helena had 11 other hits including a team-leading sixth home run from Richardson, who was 2-for-4 with four RBI and a double. 

Countryman had two doubles, Manibusan added two hits, a double and four RBI, while Audri Aakre also managed two hits and drove in four runs. Walsh, Ark, Koenig, Wetzel and Smith all had one hit each in the win.

Manisbusan also struck out three in three innings of work on the mound to get the win. The game was stopped after three innings due to the mercy rule. 

Helena High will play in Missoula, against both Big Sky and Sentinel on Thursday. 

Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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