By Bruce Sayler
The half inning of sleet was bothersome for Butte High out in the field, but the double trouble slugged out by Great Falls High spelled outright defeat for the Bulldogs.
Butte High’s home girls’ softball opener on a cold Saturday at Stodden Park lasted an uncomfortable five innings and ended in a 19-4 victory for the visiting Bison. The Class AA non-conference contest was shortened by the 10-run difference rule.
“They’re a good team,” Ryan Stosich, head coach of the Bulldogs, said about the Bison. “You can’t make mistakes like we did and play with them. We need to work on all three phases – in the pitcher’s circle, our hitting and our defense.”
“We had errors,” the coach added, acknowledging the mental ones were as, or almost as, damaging as the two physical ones recorded.
Great Falls High hit the ball, though. The top third of the Bison lineup alone collected nine hits, including seven doubles and a home run. Leadoff hitter Alex Bloomgren clocked three of the doubles and No. 2 batter Ashlyn Jones belted four. The fifth inning included a string of four straight two-baggers – by Haley Lins, Dyna Timboe, Bloomgren and Jones – as the team finished off the Bulldogs with an eight-run eruption.
Great Falls High outhit Butte High 19-8 for the game.
Stosich refused excuses. He said the Bulldogs had chances to put pressure on the Bison, but let the opportunities melt away. He said the squad has had plenty of outdoor practice, about a week’s worth, to be used to the elements and conditions. He acknowledged, too, that the youngish Bulldogs are opening their schedule against some of the traditionally top programs in the state with losses to C.M. Russell of Great Falls on Friday before the defeat to Great Falls High on Saturday and a doubleheader with reigning state Class AA champion Belgrade looming on Tuesday, weather permitting.
“We have to clean some stuff up,” Stosich said, “and that’s on me as the coach.”
Temperatures were in the 30s with a cold wind sometimes gusting to 20 mph for Saturday’s game. Sleet turned the field white in the top of the second inning while Great Falls High was doubling a 3-0 lead to 6-0. Warmth was almost as hard to find as a break for Butte High.
Bloomgren and Jones led off the game with back-to-back doubles and a quick 1-0 upper hand. Jones soon scored on a passed ball before Emma Newmark, who had walked, took second on a passed ball and then trotted home on a ground-rule double to left by Emma Galloway.
In the second, the Bulldogs retired the first two Bison hitters on a throwout at second by catcher Jordyn Bolton and a strikeout Rian Ferriter pitched. Jones then doubled and Tehneson Ehnes ripped a home run. Newmark singled, grabbed second on a wild pitch, stole third and then raced home on a wild pitch while the sleet was sweeping across the diamond.
Bryn Godbout led off the Butte High second inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on a base hit by Cami Kautzman. A comebacker and grounder to first cost the Bulldogs two outs without moving the runners. Kodie Hoagland’s second infield hit of the game allowed Godbout to get home from third base.
Butte High was on the scoreboard but trailed 6-1.
Both teams went down in order in the third frame. Great Falls High returned to swinging the bat again in the fourth and chalked up five runs for an 11-1 cushion. The Bison banged out six hits in the inning, including consecutive doubles again by Bloomgren and Jones, and run-scoring singles by Newmack and Lins. Two passed balls and an error scored runs, also.
The Bulldogs got one of the runs back in their at-bats as Godbout reached on an infield hit, got to third on an error and scored on an infield single by Joscelyn Cleveland. The teams went to the fifth inning with Great Falls High ahead by 11-2.
The Bison needed only to put up one more run to stretch the score difference to 10 runs, which would end the game after five innings. They plated eight for insurance. Big hits included a two-run single by Newmack, a single by Olivia Gammill that, combined with a Butte High error, scored three runs, and the chain of four doubles. The ones by Lins, Bloomgren and Jones knocked in runs and Great Falls High head coach Don Meierhoff was holding up his runners unless forced to score.
Butte High tried to prevent the early end and mustered a mini-rally in the bottom of the fifth. Rian Ferriter, who pitched both as a starter and in relief, began the Bulldog fifth with a towering launch over the left-field fence. After an out, Ashlinn Mullaney reached on an error and Godbout drew a walk. Ashby Lee poked a single to center and Mullaney ran home. Butte High batters Kamber Leary and Brityn Stewart knocked Ehnes pitchers to the outfield, but both were caught, ending the game.
Godbout’s double and Ferriter’s home run were Butte High’s only extra-base hits. Hoagland raced her way to two singles, Godbout hit one, and Kautzman, Lee and Cleveland each hit one. Rian Ferriter, Godbout and Lee shared pitching duties. The Butte High lineup included two freshmen – Mullaney in right field and Gracie Ferriter in left. Rian Ferriter, a junior, and seniors Hoagland, Bolton and Cleveland are the only Bulldogs who were starters in previous years. Ferriter started at pitcher Saturday with Hoagland at shortstop, Bolton at catcher and Cleveland in center field. Juniors Kautzman and Godbout were at first and second base, respectively, and sophomore Leary was the starter at third.
Great Falls 330 58x x — 19 19 2
Butte High 010 12x x — 4 8 2
Tehneson Ehnes and Alex Bloomgren. Rian Ferriter, Bryn Godbout (2), R. Ferriter (5), Ashby Lee (5) and Jordyn Bolton. W – Ehnes. L – R. Ferriter (0-2).
GREAT FALLS HIGH — Alex Bloomgren 3-4, Ashlyn Jones 4-4, Tehneson Ehnex 2-4, Emma Newmack 3-4, Ella Galloway 2-3, Dani Senger 0-3, Olivia Gammill 1-3, Haley Lins 2-3, Dyna Timboe 2-4.
BUTTE HIGH (0-2) — Kodie Hoagland 2-3, Gracie Ferriter 0-3, Rian Ferriter 1-3, Jordyn Bolton 0-2, Natalie Lynch 0-1, Ashlinn Mullaney 0-3, Bryn Godbout 2-2, Cami Kautzman 1-1, Ashby Lee 1-1, Kamber Leary 0-2, Joscelyn Cleveland 1-2, Brityn Stewart 0-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Bloomgren 3, Jones 4, Galloway, Lins, Timboe, Godbout. HR – Ehnes, R. Ferriter (1).
Runs batted in – Great Falls 16 (Jones 3, Newmack 3, Ehnes 2, Gammill 2, Lins 2, Timboe 2, Bloomgren, Galloway. Butte High 4 (Hoagland, R. Ferriter, Lee, Cleveland).
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