By Bill Foley
Caller her “Walk-off Johnny.”
Butte Central sophomore first baseman Makala Doherty ended Butte Central’s run at the Lavern Combo Invitational softball tournament at Stodden Park Saturday in dramatic fashion. (Tournament scores)
Doherty, who is called “Johnny” by her teammates, smoked an opposite-field, walk-off home run to give the Maroons a 5-4 win over Glendive.
“I didn’t think it was a home run at first,” Doherty said of the shot to right on a 2-0 pitch. “Once I saw it go over the fence, it felt pretty good.”
The home run was the first for Doherty — at any level.
As her BC teammates gave Doherty a hero’s welcome at home plate, the umpires called the game in the bottom of the sixth inning because of the tournament time limit.
Making the home run even more impressive is the fact that Doherty was playing with an injured ankle.
On Thursday, she twisted her ankle and was also hit there by a pitch.
When she showed up for BC’s first game of the tournament on Friday, she was sent to the emergency room for an X-Ray.
“It wasn’t broken, but it was black and blue,” BC coach Kelci Thatcher said.
Doherty, though, played Friday’s night’s game both Saturday games at first base, and she came through when her team needed her in the tournament finale.
“I knew I just had to do something,” she said. “It looked like it was coming down the middle. It felt really good. It felt amazing.”
The big hit helped the Maroons avoid going 0-4 in the tournament that included three close games. After a 9-3 loss to Havre, the Maroons fell 5-3 to Frenchtown and 10-9 to Laurel.
“It was nice to see them rebound this second game (Saturday) and not give up,” Thatcher said.
The game was tied at 4 thanks to a two-run home run by Kassidy Criscuolo in the fourth. The BC center fielder hit a line shot over center field with two out to score fellow senior Kloie Thatcher, who reached with her third hit of the game and seventh of the day.
The Red Devils took the lead with a three-run first inning. Kayla Brown hit a two-run single and Ashley Clapp followed with an RBI knock.
Central battled back with two in the bottom of the first.
Thatcher led off with a single, and Zoe Doherty hit a two-out single. Thatcher came home on a wild pitch before Madison Kump singled in Doherty.
Glendive made it a 4-2 game in the second. Pitcher Shelby Kohl led off with a double and scored on a Meadow Torres infield single.
That’s where the game stayed until Criscuolo’s line shot.
Kloie Thatcher pitched the distance, striking out five in the win.
The Maroons outhit the Red Devils 8-7. Thatcher was the only BC player with a multiple-hit game. That included a double in the second. Cassidy Strizic joined Zoe Doherty and Kump with a single on the game.
Kelci Thatcher said the tournament will end up being beneficial for her team that includes just the two seniors and one junior — McKenzie Norton.
“We just need to learn to compete to the very end on close games,” the coach said. “This tournament was good for us, playing in close games until the very end.
“Overall, this was a great learning experience for us.”
Central will close the regular season with a nonconference game against Livingston Tuesday at Stodden Park. The Maroons will celebrate Senior Day in the 4 p.m. game.
Then the Maroons will wait to see if they did enough to qualify for the Class A State tournament. They need Stevensville to lose to Frenchtown and Hamilton for that to happen.
For now, though, the Maroons will enjoy the walk-off home run by “Johnny.”
“What a cool thing for her,” Kelci Thatcher said. “What a great thing for Johnny.”
Glendive 310 000 — 4 7 0
Butte Central 200 201 — 5 8 2
Shelby Kohl, Vail Gibbs (3) and Kayla Brown; Kloie Thatcher and Cassidy Strizic. W — Thatcher (5-9). L — Gibbs.
GLENDIVE — Courtney Nagle 0-3, Meadow Torres 3-4, Brayden Carpenter 1-3, Kayla Brown 1-3, Bailey Pearcy 0-3, Ashley Clapp 1-3, Tyra Rowsey 0-3, Kayla Rud 0-2, Tanilla Lavato 0-3, Kohl 1-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (9-10) — Thatcher 3-3, Kassidy Criscuolo 1-2, Emma Keeley 0-2, Zoe Doherty 1-3, Madison Kump 1-3, Strizic 1-3, Makala Doherty 1-3, Gracie Wall 0-2, McKenzie Norton 0-2, Katelyn McKinnon 0-0.
HR — Criscuolo, M. Doherty. 2B — Kohl; Thatcher. RBIs — Brown 2, Torres, Clapp; Criscuolo 2, Kump, M. Doherty.