Badovinac blast lifts Maroons past Hardin

Badovinac blast lifts Maroons past Hardin
Butte Central teammates welcome Brooke Badovinac to home plate after she hit a three-run walk-off home run Saturday at Stodden Park. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

And just like that, the Maroons won.

Brooke Badovinac crushed a three-run home run through the wind and rain, and Butte Central walked off with a 7-6 win over Hardin this afternoon at Stodden Park.

As the junior shortstop rounded the bases, the umpire behind the plate called “ballgame” because of the tournament time limit.

The win, which came in a game shortened to four innings, lifted the Maroons to 2-1 on the LaVerne Combo Invitational.

It also gave the Maroons a little mojo back after a tough loss to Frenchtown Friday night.

“She’s back,” a teammate yelled as Badovinac hit third base. Sure, Badovinac had a 5-for-5 game in a win over Harden less than 24 hours earlier, but she had not hit a home run in a home game yet this season.

The home run seemed to stun the crowd that probably figured a loss was imminent. Central was down 6-4 with nobody on base and with two outs in the fourth.

Then the lineup turned over to leadoff hitter Hattie Mehring. She smoked a solid single to right field before pitcher Sofee Thatcher crushed a shot off the third baseman and down the line for her second triple of the game.

Knowing the clock was ticking and the rain was picking up, Badovinac hit the high, no-doubt blast to left field.

“Chunky just said ‘We’re running out of time,’” Badovinac said of coach Bill “Chunky” Thatcher. “I knew we had two on base, so I had to hit a good shot to get those two runs in. I was just trying to get at least the two runs in.”

The impressive thing about the home run — other than the clutch timing — was that it took a blast to hit the ball out to left field.

While the wind was not as bad as it was on Friday, it still made a home run extremely difficult. Thatcher smacked a ball in the same direction an inning earlier. She went into her home run trot and then had to hustle into second after the ball hit off the fence.

The home run was the first at home this season for Badovinac and her third of the year. She hit two homers in last month’s Frenchtown tournament.

“It was a higher pitch down the middle,” she said. “It just felt amazing coming off the bat.”

The shot gave BC the lead for the first time on the day.

Brady Nordquist hit a two-run single to put the Bulldogs on top of the second inning.

BC cut the lead to 2-1 when Brenna Foley and Renee Creekmore each beat out infield singles. Spotting the third baseman was far away from the bag, Foley stole second and then scored on a throwing error.

A two-run error helped Hardin score three runs in the third to make it a 5-1 game.

The Maroons answered with a three spot of their own. After Thatcher’s wall-ball double, Badovinac singled to put runners on the corner. Then Mia Keeley hit an infield single to score Thatcher, and Badovinac came home on an error.

Jaeden Berger beat out a bunt single to score Keeley.

Hardin got an insurance run in the top of the fourth when Carey Whiteman reached on an error and scored on a single by Macy Uffelman.

Central got out of the inning when Keeley, the catcher, fired a strike to Foley at second to gun down Uffelman on a steal attempt. Then Keeley made a nice catch to snag a pop up by Merasia Fisher to end the inning.

The Maroons outhit the Bulldogs 9-5. Maggie Stimatz dropped a sacrifice bunt, and Cloe Stillwagon put up two tough at bats for the Maroons.

Still, things looked dire in the fourth with two out and the clock ticking.

Even when Mehring and Thatcher reached, nobody was expecting a walk-off shot into the wind.

But Badovinac destroyed a ball that even the wind could not slow down.

“The wind has been really rough this weekend, which sucks,” Badovinac said. “But you’ve got to deal with what you’ve got.”

BC closes the tournament against Livingston at 4 p.m.

Hardin                       023   1 — 6  5   4
Butte Central            013  3 — 7   9   2

Aubrey Nedens and Macy Uffelman; Sofee Thatcher and Mia Keeley. W — Thatcher. L — Nedens.
HARDIN — Nededs 0-2, Carey Whiteman 0-2, Uffelman 1-2, Merasia Fisher 1-3,Cloe Baker 1-2, Carmen Pallane 1-1, Ashlee Osborn 0-1, Brady Nardquist 1-2, Kaydence Fraser 0-2, Cherayah Spotted Bear 0-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (5-10) — Hattie Mehring 1-3, Thatcher 2-2, Brooke Badovinac 2-3, Keeley 1-2, Jaeden Berger 1-2, Brenna Foley 1-1, Renee Creekmore 1-2, Maggie Stimatz 0-1, Cloe Stillwagon 0-2.
HR — Badovinac. 2B — Thatcher 2. RBIs — Nardquist 2, Uffelman; Badovinac 3, Keeley, Berger.



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