Helena High pitcher Terra Gilchrist recently completed one of the more epic careers in her school's softball history.
This past season, Gilchrist went 16-10 on the rubber, posting a 2.83 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 163 innings. The Helena right-hander amassed no fewer than eight school records, including season wins, strikeouts and innings pitched, career wins (41) and strikeouts (506), and the program’s only perfect game.
Prior to the State AA Tournament, she helped the Western Conference runner-up Bengals to a 10-2 league record and their highest conference showing in 27 years. Gilchrist then capped off her career with three victories at the AA tourney in Great Falls, propelling HHS to a third-place finish for the program’s first-ever State trophy.
Now, Gilchrist is the IR’s Softball Super Team Player of the Year.
“Terra has been the rock in our circle for four years,” Helena coach Ryan Schulte said. “She is the epitome of a hard worker and was a huge presence on our team during the State Tournament.”
Gilchrist, who served under two pitching coaches at HHS -- Frank Schneckloth and Ashten Broadhead -- throws five pitches, and has developed one of the best two-seam fastballs in the state. At knee-high level, it acts like a drop ball, and at belt-high it curves like a slider.
She went a dazzling 10-2 in conference play this year, while pitching five 12-strikeout games overall, with a season-high 13 whiffs versus Bozeman.
In the opening game of the Western AA playoff series versus Flathead at Mihelish Field, the senior hurler fired a five-inning perfect game for the first time in program history. Gilchrist struck out 10 of a possible 15 Bravette batters.
With the soft-spoken manner she’s become known for, afterwards Gilchrist answered, “All five of my pitches,” when asked what was working best, crediting the work of her defense.
The following week in the Electric City, her State victories started with a 3-1 success (five-hitter, 12 strikeouts, one walk) over Butte for HHS’ first win at State since 2009. After an 11-0 loss to two-time champion C.M. Russell, the red-and-white bounced back with a 6-3 elimination game triumph (eight-hitter, two earned runs, five strikeouts, two walks) over Missoula Sentinel.
Then, in the third-place contest, a 3-1 win (four-hitter, six strikeouts, no walks) over Big Sky, secured the only State trophy in the team’s 31-year existence.
“I just love how Terra rebounded mentally after a tough game against CMR,” Schulte said. “She just came back out and pitched two outstanding games against Sentinel and Big Sky, and I was so proud of her composure during the two biggest wins of our season.”
For her three State tourney victories, Gilchrist scattered 17 hits and four earned runs in 21 innings, with 23 strikeouts and three walks. She also helped herself out at the plate, delivering an RBI in each game.
Gilchrist’s five major school records were formerly held by the great Tamara Rogers (1994-97), who went on to a stellar collegiate career with Jamestown University.
“Terra’s ability to stay calm in the face of pressure, time and time again, was vital to our team’s success at State. And she represented our program and her four high school years with class every step of the way,” Schulte said.