BC baseball peers past snow toward very first game

By Bruce Sayler

Time-share at the Maroon Activities Center these cold, snowy, wet, wintry days in the infancy of new spring means the indoor sports facility is being shared by outdoor baseball, softball, tennis and track teams.
Maybe it’s the P.E. classes that are being educated outside. Maybe not.
Butte Central head baseball coach Richie O’Brien said he is hoping he can introduce the Maroons’ very first baseball team to dirt before they open their very first season. Baseball is a new Montana high school sport this spring and Butte Central is one of 22 schools to sign up for it. All will play in one competition enrollment class until more schools join. Class AA is the lowest-represented with only Belgrade and BC crosstown rival Butte High so far on board. It also means Butte High and Butte Central will play baseball games against each other, two being on the schedule.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” O’Brien, a former Butte Central standout in football, wrestling and track and who has since coached in the football and track programs, said. “(The season) came a lot faster than I was thinking it would. But, we’re still getting the work in that we need.
“I’m working with Clay and Chunky and everybody in finding the time everyone needs in the MAC.”
Clay McQueary is the school’s new head track coach and Chunky Thatcher is back for another year with the softball program.
“We have 16 kids out and I’m really happy with the kids we have,” O’Brien said, adding that the Maroons will offer a junior varsity team with many of the younger players seeing time with both squads. “Butte’s baseball has been on the way up in recent years. Our Junior and Senior Little League teams have won (at state tournaments) the last three years with one group winning State last year. Plus, there are the Legion kids (that won the state and regional Class A crowns)”
O’Brien welcomed two of the Butte American Legion players to BC’s first baseball outfit. Rye Doherty, a senior standout was a key figure in the Miners’ run to the state and regional titles as a pitcher and good-hitting third baseman. Junior Jake Tauscher is on the rise from the Muckers feeder program.
“Rye Doherty is a phenom out there,” O’Brien said. “He’s a coach for us as much as a player. He is our captain for our first year.”
All workouts have been forced inside so far and the season opener is on the slate for Saturday in Columbus with games against both Columbus and Sidney. The home opener is tentatively set for April 1 versus Belgrade at 3 Legends Stadium in Copper Mountain Youth Sports Park. Butte will play host to the state tournament, set for May 18-20 at 3 Legends Stadium.
“We’ve had two weeks of practice,” O’Brien said. “But, we’d still need a lot of shovels if we want to see dirt. We’re getting more done, though, than I ever thought we could in the MAC.”
A pitcher’s mound is one of the new features of the MAC and a batting cage has also been brought in for the hitters.
Doherty is one of four seniors on the team, but the only with recent baseball experience. The others – Eric Loos, Konnor Pochervina and Garrett Button – have stood out in other sports and lend athleticism where experience might lack.
Tauscher is the only junior on the young team while Cory Campbell and Aiden Ossello are the only sophomores. Ossello, however, is a mid-year transfer from Butte High and ineligible for varsity play this spring. He is slated for JV action, though.
Freshmen Jack Nagle, Cole Hassler, Kourt Donaldson, Kelton Berger, Trapper Stajcar, Marcus Abad and Kelton Keane will see a lot of time while eighth-graders Gunnar O’Brien and Carson Gillis are younger prospects. O’Brien is the coach’s son.
“We have two Legion veterans and not much experience among the rest,” coach O’Brien said. “But, I think we have a lot of ability.
“We’re excited to go hit on the field, someday.”
O’Brien’s staff includes Doherty’s brother, Renzy Doherty, and their dad, Brian Doherty, along with Ryan Greer (O’Brien’s brother-in-law) and Ryan Hardy.
The schedule, subject to change at any moment, follows:
25 – at Columbus, 11 a.m. 25 – vs. Sidney at Columbus, 1 p.m. 30 – at Dillon, 3 p.m.
1 – Belgrade, noon. 3 – Butte High, 1 p.m. 13 – Columbus, 3 p.m. 14 – Sidney, 4 p.m. 20 – Lone Peak, 3 p.m. 21 – at Belgrade, 5 p.m. 24 – at Stevensville, 4 p.m.
2 – at Butte High, 4 p.m. 4 – Dillon, 4 p.m. 5 – at Lone Peak, 3 p.m. 13 – at Browning, 2 p.m. 18-21 – State Tournament, Butte, 3 Legends Stadium.