By Bill Foley
Butte Central could not have picked a better time for their bats to bust out.
The Maroons pounded 17 hits this afternoon as they picked up a huge 11-9 Southwestern A win over Hamilton at Stodden Park.
The game was BC’s first of four in the LaVerne Combo Invitational tournament. It was played in winds that could only be described as brutal.
With the wind coming in hard from the west, a home run to left field was all but impossible. Balls that looked like a popup to the pitcher or second baseman were blown out of play.
Central, though, mustered enough hits to prevent a loss that would have blown their Class A State tournament hopes out of the water. Now, BC is still very much alive for a trip to State after avenging last month’s loss to the Broncs.
Hamilton batted second as the “home team” because the game was a make up from Saturday’s rainout in Hamilton.
Brooke Badovinac paced the BC offense with her best game of the season. She went 5 for 5 with a triple and a double. She scored four runs.
She was easily the player of the game when all nine Maroons in the lineup made a case for such a distinction.
Mia Keeley went 3 for 5 with a double and three RBIs, and Renee Creekmore had her best game as a Maroon, going 3 for 4.
Sofee Thatcher, who pitched the distance and struck out 11, added a double and a single for BC.
Every Maroon who walked to the plate had a hit on the day.
Hattie Mehring, Brenna Foley and Cloe Stillwagon smacked solid singles. Maggie Stimatz and Jaeden Berger dropped perfectly-placed bunts for hits.
Leadoff hitter Addison Flynn poked three doubles, and Alyson Broad hit a double and a single to lead the Broncs. Maddy Ward and Brynne Johnson each hit two singles.
The Maroons never trailed after a three-run first inning that was highlighted by a ground-rule double off the bat of Badovinac. The ball skidded under the fence.
BC extended the lead to 5-0 on RBI singles by Keeley and Foley on the third.
Hamilton used doubles by Flynn and Broad to rally for four in the bottom of the third, but Central answered with an RBI ground out by Thatcher and an RBI single by Keely in the fourth.
Thatcher doubled to lead off a three-run sixth that appeared to put the game out of reach at 11-5.
Hamilton, though, rallied for four in the bottom of the seventh to make things interesting.
It appeared the Broncs would bring the tying run to the plate when a high throw ticked off the mitt of Stimatz at first. Two runs came in on the play.
Stimatz, though, made a great throw to Badovinac, the shortstop, to gun down Madisen Fischer at second to end the game.
That was one of three outstanding plays by Stimatz, who made two nice plays for unassisted putouts at first. Badovinac gunned down a runner at the plate, and Thatcher snagged a hard shot for what turned out to be an easy out at first.
The win lifts the Maroons to 4-5 in conference and 4-9 overall. Hamilton falls to 2-7 and 2-12.
Central’s second game, a Southwestern A game with Frenchtown, was set to start at 7 p.m.
The Maroons will play Hardin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday before closing the tournament at 4 p.m. against Livingston. Both those games are non-conference.
Butte Central 302 213 0 — 11 17 3
Hamilton 004 100 4 — 9 9 5
Sofee Thatcher and Mia Keeley; Brynne Johnson and Addison Flynn. W — Thatcher. L — Johnson.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-5, 4-9) — Hattie Mehring 1-4, Thatcher 2-4, Brooke Badovinac 5-5, Keeley 3-5, Jaeden Berger 1-4, Brenna Foley 1-3, Renee Creekmore 3-4, Maggie Stimatz 1-4, Cloe Stillwagon 1-4.
HAMILTON (2-7, 2-12) — Flynn 3-4, Delilah Beck 0-3, Maddy Ward 2-4, Johnson 2-3, Haylee McKinley 0-4, Katelyn Shepherd 0-2, Alyson Broad 2-4, Madisen Fischer 0-3, Thea Jackson 0-2, Taylee Conley 0-0.
2B — Thatcher, Badovinac, Keeley; Flynn 3, Broad. 3B — Badovinac. RBIs — Keeley 3, Mehring, Thatcher, Badovinac, Berger; Flynn 2, Johnson 2, Broad 2.