Billings West sweeps Butte High

At least the broken glass from the shattered pole light didn’t cut anyone.

“No, but that happening (the bulb breakage) might have been our bad omen,“ Butte High head girls’ softball coach said Saturday after the Bulldogs dropped a doubleheader, 7-4 and 14-0, to Billings West at Stodden Park.

Only the first loss counted in the Eastern AA Conference standings. The shutout came in a non-league tilt.

The confines presented many problems to complicate simply getting a twin bill played. The broken light was the result West center-fielder Rachael Dillon batted a foul ball off the bulb resting in the light standard above the Butte High dugout. Shattered glass rained down on the foul territory between the dugout and home plate as a result and luckily nobody was hit by the  pieces. However, a fairly lengthy delay to clean up the breakage followed. Removal of the remnants was needed so as not to cut players who might wind up sliding through the dirt in the area while making a play.

Wearing away of the clay in the pitching circle also caused stoppages for repair work to prevent pitchers from snagging their spikes in a mesh or felt material installed recently to separate the surface dirt from the gravel underneath, part of a plan meant to improve drainage for the fields.

Between games, a spigot behind home plate was turned on for watering down the infield dirt, but turning it back off wound up taking longer than planned, too, and workers scrambled to keep fans dry and prevent further field damage.

Most of the damage, though, was done at the complex by Billings West bats.

“It was a tough day,” Stosich said. “We handed the first game to them, going into the last inning with a 3-2 lead and coming out of it (West’s half) behind 7-3.  And we still had a chance to win it.

“A couple of mistakes killed us. “”

Pitcher Jessica Robertson gave the Bulldogs a strong first-game performance. Defense was a little under par for the home team on the day, while offensive stars included Katey Walsh, Baylee Thatcher, Ashten McCloskey and Hattie Thatcher. A second-game double by Hattie Thatcher was Butte High’s only extra-base hit of the day.

Pitchers Katie Zink and Jalen Creech both excelled for the Golden Bears while Makenzie Shellnutt, Ashley McDonald and Dillon paced their offense. McDonald and Dillon socked home runs in the first game.

Butte High is to be home against Eastern AA opponent Billings Senior on Saturday in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Stodden Park.

Billings West 7, Butte High 4

Robertson kept the Golden Bears mostly at bay for six innings with good usage of change-of-speed pitching, location and a lunge-inducing riser that nicely complemented a charged fastball. She struck out eight and walked four. Her teammates gave her a 2-0 edge in the second inning as Hattie Thatcher drove in a run with a base hit after Nikki Guizzo walked and Ashton LaFond was hit by a pitch. LaFond wound up scoring on a wild pitch.

West tied the score in the fifth on McDonald’s two-run two-out homer. The Bulldogs retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Walsh took a two-out walk, went to second on a wild pitch and home on a Baylee Thatcher base hit.

The score remained 3-2 until the top of the seventh frame when the Golden Bears erupted. Haley Swan and Ashley Davis began the frame with back-to-back ground-rule doubles, scoring the tying run. An error trying to throw out Taylor Ostwald on a sacrifice bunt let the go-ahead run come home. Shellnutt singled in a run two outs later and then Dillon belted a two-run homer to right field. The rally gave the Golden Bears a 7-3 advantage as Butte High came to the plate for its last at-bats.

Walsh whacked a two-out single to left field and Maria Michelotti and Baylee Thatcher followed with base hits to score a run before Creech relieved Zink and recorded a strikeout to end the game.

Billings West          000     020     5  —  7     6     1

Butte High              020     010     1  —   4    7     2

Katie Zink, Jalen Creech (7) and Haley Swan. Jessica Robertson and Maria Michelotti. W — Zink. L — Robertson.

BILLINGS WEST — Taylor Ostwald 0-1, Ashley McDonald 1-2, Katie Zink 1-3, Jalen Creech 0-0, Makenzie Shellnutt 2-4, Rachael Dillon 2-4, Maranda Ratcliff 0-4, Jessica Lampi 0-2, Alexis Mayhood 0-1, Haley Swan 1-2, Meghan Dahlquist 0-0, Kelly Brotzel 0-1, Ashley Davis 1-2.

BUTTE HIGH — Hattie Thatcher 1-4, Ashten McCloskey 02, Amanda Spear 0-1, Katey Walsh 2-3, Maria Michelotti 1-3, Baylee Thatcher 3-4, Haley Henderson 0-0, Nikki Guizzo 0-3, Kendall Alley 0–0, Bobbie Osterman 0-3, Ashton LaFond 0-2, Justyce Connole 0-3.

Extra-base hits — 2B — Swan, Davis. HR — McDonald, Dillon. RBIs — West, McDonald 2, Dillon 2, Shellnutt 1, Davis 1; Butte High, B. Thatcher 2, H. Thatcher 1.

Billings West 14, Butte High 0

The non-conference game was ended after five innings on the 10-4 run difference rule. Billings West capitalized on Butte High struggles that included four errors committed and eight walks issued.

The Golden Bears scored the only runs they really needed in the first inning when they took a 2-0 lead. McDonald walked with one out and scored an out later on a double by Shellnutt. Dillon then delivered Shellnutt home with a single.

The Golden Bears scored a run in the third without a hit, getting McDonald aboard on a two-base error, advancing her home on two straight groundouts.

West plated four runs in the fourth inning and seven in the fifth to ice the win. Shellnutt smacked a two-run single, Maranda Ratcliff batted in one with an infield hit and another scored on an error to account for the fourth inning. The fifth featured 13 batters going to the plate. Swan doubled and singled in the inning Ostwald knocked in two runs with two singles,  including the 10th run, , and Shellnutt, Ratcliff and Creech also batted in runs.

Creech held the Bulldogs to five hits — Hattie Thatcher’s double in the third inning, two singles by McCloskey and a single each by Michelotti and Baylee Thatcher.

Billings West          201     47x     x  —  14    11     1

Butte High              000      000    0  —     0     5     4

Jalen Creech and Maranda Ratcliff. Bobbie Osterman and Megan Ingersoll. W — Creech. L — Osterman.

BILLINGS WEST — Taylor Ostwald 2-4, Ashley McDonald 0-2, Alexis Mayhood 0-4, Makenzie Shellnutt 2-3, Rachael Dillon 2-2, Kelly Brotzel 0-1, Maranda Ratcliff 2-3, Jalen Creech 1-4, Ashley Davis 1-1, Jessica Lampi 0-1, Haley Swan 2-2.

BUTTE HIGH —  Hattie Thatcher 1-3, Ashten McCloskey 2-3, Katey Walsh 0-3, Maria Michelotti 1-2, Baylee Thatcher 1-2, Bobbie Osterman 0-2, Megan Ingersoll 0-2, Ashton LaFond 0-2. Kendall Alley 0-2.

Extra-base hits — 2B — Shellnutt, Swan, H. Thatcher. RBIs — Shellnutt 4, Ostwald 2, Dillon 2, Ratcliff 2, Creech 1.