By Bruce Sayler
A couple of big swings and couple of big plays were the only differences in execution. However, they determined outcomes as Helena High swept Butte High 7-4, 10-6 in a Western AA Conference high school girls’ softball doubleheader Thursday at Stodden Park.
Alyssa Koenig’s three-run blast in the first game rallied the Bengals to their first win of the day, and two over-the-fencers slugged by Amber Countryman to pile up five runs punctuated their second.
Through all the innings, Helena High’s defense was just a tad quicker and more accurate than the Bulldogs.’ The difference between win and loss wasn’t much.
“We have to get a little bit better,” Butte High head coach Ryan Stosich said. “They made some great defensive plays and those are the plays we need to be better at. The great plays they made robbed us of some hits and they were ones that might’ve gotten us a win or two.
“But, we’ll keep working hard and that’s what we’ll be working on now in practice.”
The losses dropped the Bulldogs’ records to 4-9 overall, 4-4 in conference. They are to play at Helena Capital on Tuesday in another Western AA twin bill.
A constant wind was a nuisance during Thursday’s doubleheader.
Helena High 7, Butte High 4
Former head coach Steve Stosich, father of the current Bulldogs’ softball director, guided the team through the first game with the younger Stosich unable to arrive to the park until the second tilt due to a family commitment. The two helmed the Bulldogs’ state AA championship team of 2010 during more than a decade and a half they have been in the Butte High softball pilots’ seat.
Butte High held a 4-2 lead through six innings of the first game. Countryman started the five-run Helena High rally with a one-out base hit in the top of the seventh. Reegan Walsh then drew a walk. Countryman then stole third base. Brooke Ark hit a grounder that was fielded, but an errant throw to first allowed Walsh to reach third base after Countryman scored on the ground ball. The mistake pulled the Bengals to within 4-3 of the lead. Faith Manibusan then bashed a double off of the fence in left field and Walsh scored the tying run. After Butte High pitcher Rian Ferriter struck out Ashlyn Lamping, Koenig clubbed her three-run homer over the left-field fence, delivering Ark and Manibusan home ahead of her.
The uprising took Helena High to a 7-4 lead and it held through the Bulldogs’ batting in the bottom of the inning, though they loaded the bases. Aubree Corcoran beat out an infield hit with one out. An out later, Jordyn Bolton singled to right and MacKenzie Tutty then landed a parachute behind first base to fill the bags. Helena High reliever Maloree English got the final out on a soft flyball to herself.
The teams each scored a run in the first inning. Countryman crunched the first pitch of the game over the center-field fence for the first of her three home runs of the day. Butte High evened the score when McCaul McCarthy drew a bases-loaded walk. The Bulldogs had packed the sacks with Kodie Hoagland bunting for a single, and Ferriter and Tutty working bases on balls.
Butte High went ahead 2-1 in the third inning. Ferriter pasted a base hit to left field and was replaced on the paths by courtesy runner Dacelyn LaFond. Two outs later, LaFond scored on a single by McCarthy to right field.
Helena High retied with a run in the fifth. Walsh traced the third-base line with a two-out double, then came home on a single by Ark.
The Bulldogs’ last two runs were tallied in their half of the fifth. Bolton belted a two-out solo home run over center field. Tutty was issued a walk, then sped home on a double by McCarthy, her third RBI of the game.
Helena High 100 010 5 — 7 9 1
Butte High 101 020 0 — 4 10 3
Makenna Campbell, Maloree English (5) and Amber Countryman. Rian Ferriter and MacKenzie Tutty. W – English. L – Ferriter.
HELENA HIGH — Amber Countryman 2-3, Reegan Walsh 2-4, Brooke Ark 1-4, Faith Manibusan 1-3, Makenna Campbell 0-0, Cassie Smith 0-0, Ashlyn Lamping 0-4, Alyssa Koenig 1-4, Kylee Wetzel 1-3, Brooke Richardson 0-3, Maloree English 1-3.
BUTTE HIGH — Kodie Hoagland 1-4, Aubree Corcoran 2-4, Rian Ferriter 1-3, Dacelyn LaFond 0-0, Jordyn Bolton 2-4, Joscelyn Cleveland 0-0, Kamber Leary 0-0, MacKenzie Tutty 1-2, McCaul McCarthy 2-3, Mia Antonioli 0-3, Jaycee Burke 0-3, Madison Skeel 0-0, Dylan Duffy 1-2.
Extra-base hits – 2B — English, Walsh, Manibusan, McCarthy. HR – Countryman, Koenig, Bolton.
Runs batted in – Helena 7 (Koenig 3, Ark 2, Countryman 1, Manibusan 1), Butte 4 (McCarthy 3, Bolton 1).
Helena High 10, Butte High 6
The end to the first game was a cause of much disappointment for the Butte High players and the spring in the Bulldogs’ step seemed to leave with the victory that got away.
“It looks like we squandered one,” Ryan Stosich said. “I think the end of that first game took the wind out of our sails for this (the second) game. We have to learn to finish.”
Butte High’s only lead was after the first half inning.
Hoagland slapped a leadoff single and advanced to third on fielder’s choices hit into by Corcoran and Ferriter. She scored on a delay, Bolton hitting a ground ball and drawing a throw to first while Hoagland first waited, then bolted for home on the try at first and beat the throw to the plate.
The Bengals took the lead with a three-run first. Countryman and Walsh both singled and then scored on a base hit by Lamping. Koenig drove Lamping in with a double.
Helena High put up four more runs I the second for a 7-1 command. Brooke Richardson and English both reached on errors and Countryman clubbed a home run over the left-field fence. Ferriter was replaced by Skeel in the pitcher’s circle and Walsh greeted her with a homer over left-center.
The Bulldogs got two of the runs back in the third. Skeel drilled a double to center and went to third on a bunt single by Hoagland. Corcoran brought in Skeel with a double to right and Hoagland scored an out later when Bolton’s grounder was misplayed.
Countryman scored Helena’s eighth run on a sacrifice fly by Manibusan in the fourth frame. Butte High narrowed the deficit to 8-5 with run-scoring singles by Dylan Duffy and Skeel in the fifth. The table was set by two Bengal errors to start the inning.
The Bulldogs got another run in the sixth on a solo home run by Ferriter, pulling to within 8-6 of the lead.
However, the Bengals repelled the rally in the last of the sixth when Countryman clobbered a home run over the left-field fence. English was aboard via a base hit.
The Bulldogs were retired in order by English in the seventh. Butte High stranded eight runners on base over the course of the game.
Butte High 102 021 0 — 6 9 3
Helena High 340 102 x — 10 10 3
Rian Ferriter, Madison Skeel (2) and MacKenzie Tutty. Alyssa Koenig, Maloree English (6) and Amber Countryman. W – Koenig. L – Ferriter.
BUTTE HIGH (4-9, 4-4) — Kodie Hoagland 3-4, Aubree Corcoran 1-4, Rian Ferriter 1-4, Pieper Joseph 0-0, Jordyn Bolton 0-4, Joscelyn Cleveland 0-0, MacKenzie Tutty 0-3, McCaul McCarthy 0-3, Mia Antonioli 0-4, Jaycee Burke 0-1, Dylan Duffy 2-3, Madison Skeel 2-3.
HELENA HIGH (6-5, 4-3) — Amber Countryman 3-3, Reegan Walsh 2-4, Brooke Ark 1-4, Faith Manibusan 0-3, Audri Aakre 0-0, Ashlyn Lamping 1-2, Alyssa Koenig 2-3, Makenna Campbell 0-0, Kylee Wetzel 0-3, Brooke Richardson 0-3, Maloree English 1-3.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Koenig, Skeel, Corcoran. HR – Countryman 2, Walsh, Ferriter.
Runs batted in – Butte 4 (Corcoran 1, Ferriter 1, Duffy 1, Skeel 1), Helena 10 (Countryman 5, Lamping 2, Walsh 1, Manibusan 1, Koenig 1).