By Bruce Sayler
It was a prevailing wind for Butte Central.
The gales blowing to the outfield helped out with the Maroons’ longball game as they beat Havre by a touchdown, 14-7, Friday. BC hitters walloped five home runs in the victory, the first game for Butte Central in its own LaVerne Combo Inviational high school girls’ softball tournament at Stodden Park.
Taylor Wahl, Megan Michelotti, Emma Keeley, Zoe Doherty and Kloie Thatcher all knocked it out of the park. The offensive explosion backed the 10-strikeout pitching by Thatcher in a game ended after 5 ½ innings by the tournament time limit. Thatcher batted 4-for-4 in the tilt.
All three diamonds at Stodden Park, as well as one at Father Sheehan Park, are being used to house the two-day, 29-team event, the last regular-season action for most, if not all, the entered clubs.
“The wind was in our favor today, but this darned weather …,” Butte Central head coach Kloie Thatcher said. “The girls battled and they did a good job of hitting after they made their adjustments at the plate.
“It was a good win. Everybody hit.”
Havre was not so easy of an opponent, either. The Blue Ponies caught up with the Maroons twice before being undone by an eight-run BC inning in the eighth.
Havre threatened early with two runners on base in the first inning before Thatcher induced an infield popup to get out of the jam. Wahl gave Butte Central a 3-0 lead with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the first — a rocket she lined through the left-to-right wind and over the left-field fence. Thatcher and Keeley were aboard on a single and error.
The Blue Ponies answered with a two-out, two-run blast by Jacey McDonald in the top of the third after J.J. Hessa had scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a leadoff error. Another error let Kinzy Peterson on base before McDonald’s big swing.
The BC girls broke the tie in their half of the third as Thatcher, Kassidy Criscuolo and Mollie Peoples all singled. Havre re-knotted the count in the top of the fourth on a two-out single Hessa plopped over first base after Madison Tommerup led off with a base hit up the middle and advanced on two groundouts.
Then, came the Maroons’ big inning.
Michelotti led off with ashot to left-center that bounced on the fence and landed on the other side. The HR immediately fractured the 4-all tie. Brooke Raiha then singled to left and Cassidy Strizic reached on a throwing error. Raiha scored on the error while Strizic took second base. Strizic went to third on a passed ball. After an out, she came home on Thatcher’s single to left that got past the fielder. A good catch by Maddie Shennum in right field robbed Criscuolo of an extra-base hit. Keeley, though, then plastered a two-run homer. Peoples and Wahl were hit by consecutive pitches and then Michelotti singled. Peoples scored on the base hit and Wahl followed her across the plate when the throw to second base was errant. Michelotti scored on a bad throw to second. Eight runs had plated and Butte Central’s cushion was 12-4 headed for the fifth inning.
Coach Kelci Thatcher opted for some rest of her cousin’s pitching arm and freshman Makala Doherty went to the circle. However, the experienced Blue Pony lineup treated her roughly. Peterson and McDonald stroked one-out singles and Janae Boles reached base on an error to load the bases. Peterson sped home on a wild pitch and then singles by Madison Tommerup and Cameron Huston each knocked in a run. Thatcher went back to pitching and got a popup and a strikeout to douse Havre’s attempted rally.
The Maroons scored the game’s last two runs in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back solo home runs by Zoe Doherty and Thatcher. The Blue Ponies were retired in order in the sixth and the time limit had been reached.
None of the four pitchers issued any walks in the game.
“Cassidy Strizic got some experience behind the plate for us and I thought she did a good job there,” coach Thatcher said of the freshman who usually plays left field for the varsity. “She’s a great athlete and is going to be a great player. Zoe had a nice hit and Cassidy had a nice one that their fielder made a nice catch of.
“It’s good for us to play a strong, competitive team in this part of the season, just before State. We’re used to playing teams from the West, so it nice play against some others.”
The coach noted the tourney is good for everyone, but, like everyone, wished it was accompanied by better weather.
“Everybody gets a look at the top (Class A and B-C) teams in the state at the top part of the year,” she said. “It’s a fun atmosphere. The kids love it, the coaches love it and it is great for the community.”
The win put BC at 11-6,
Havre 003 130 x — 7 9 6
Butte Central 301 82x x — 14 14 3
J.J. Hessa, Alex Barkus (5) and Nicole Parsons. Kloie Thatcher, Makala Doherty (5), Thatcher (5) and Megan Michelotti, Cassidy Strizic (2). W — Thatcher. L — Hessa.
HAVRE — Nicole Parsons 0-4, Sam Oliver 0-4, Kinzy Peterson 2-4, Maddie Shennum 0-0, Jacey McDonald 3-3, Janae Boles 0-3, Madison Tommerup 2-3, Cameron Huston 1-3, Traycen Labuda 0-3, J.J. Hessa 1-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL (11-6) —Kloie Thatcher 4-4, Kassidy Criscuolo 1-4, Emma Keeley 1-4, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Taylor Wahl 1-3, Megan Michelotti 2-3, Brooke Raiha 2-3, Cassidy Strizic 0-3, Makala Doherty 0-2, Zoe Doherty 1-1.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Peterson. HR — McDonald, Wahl, Michelotti, Keeley, Z. Doherty, Thatcher.
Runs batted in — Havre 5 (McDonald 2, Tommerup 1, Huston 1, Hessa 1), BC 10 (Wahl 3, Thatcher 2, Keeley 2, Peoples 1, Michelotti 1, Z. Doherty 1).