By Bill Foley
Butte Central’s performance on the softball diamond Thursday could have served as the CliffsNotes for the entire 2019 season.
The Maroons showed flashes of brilliance, excitement and potential as they battled the Corvallis Blue Devils in a Southwestern A game at Stodden Park’s Field No. 2.
In the end, though, the Maroons made too many mistakes to win.
Corvallis took advantage of eight Maroon errors, rallying past BC for a 17-10 victory.
The loss closes the book on BC’s chances of being part of the field when the Class A State tournament opens May 23 in Polson.
Corvallis scored seven runs in the seventh inning to put the dagger into the BC season.
“We should have won that in the sixth inning,” Central coach Kelci Thatcher, pointing to a handful of BC miscues. “Routine plays.”
The Blue Devils also scored five runs in the sixth inning as the wheels fell off for the Maroons on the eve of the LaVerne Combo Invitational.
That came after BC scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take an 8-5 lead.
Zoe Doherty poked a two-hit single to right field to highlight the inning. That came right after the Blue Devils intentionally walked Sofee Thatcher for the second time, this time with runners already on first and second.
Maddie Kump also singled in a run in the frame, and Makala Doherty hit a deep sacrifice fly.
The Maroons, though, left the bases loaded when Cassidy Strizic’s long, loud fly ball to left fell harmlessly into the glove of Corvallis Daphney Reynoso.
Central tied the game at 10 after Corvallis’s sixth-inning rally. Maci Reopelle singled and scored when Makala Doherty hit a sharp grounder to short stop. Kump walked and scored on a wild pitch.
The Maroons saw five errors over the next two innings spoil the day.
Corvallis shortstop Ashlynn Dison hit two no-doubt home runs to drive in three runs to highlight Corvallis’ 15-hit attack. Sami Knapp went 4 for 5 with four RBIs, while Gabby Krueger went 3 for 5. Cierra Jessop blasted a solo home run.
Central pounded out 10 hits. Strizic, Reopelle and Kump each had two, while Thatcher, Zoe Doherty, Emma Keeley and Brenna Foley each hit one.
Strizic, Keeley and Reopelle each hit doubles. Strizic’s two bagger, though, should have been a triple.
Strizic blasted a ball to the fence on the fly. As Corvallis center fielder Maria Hickey fell over the fence, but the ball stayed in play. Strizic easily took third.
Corvallis Steve Tintzman, though, argued the ruling of the play that came with BC down seven runs with two out in the seventh.
The field umpire said he didn’t see for sure, so Strizic was sent back to second despite the protest of the BC bench.
BC got offensive production from up and down the lineup. Maggie Stimatz worked for three walks, and every starter reached base.
Gracie Wall and Lexis Earles made appearances as pinch hitters in the seventh.
As BC heads into four games in two days at the Combo, the roster stands at just 12 players, and the Maroons don’t have a senior.
“I’m proud of the girls — especially Gracie Wall and Lex — because they don’t get a lot of playing time,” coach Thatcher said. “It has to be tough being two girls in the dugout who sit all the time, but they’re great teammates.”
Central plays Laurel at 1:30 p.m. Friday. They’ll take on Frenchtown in a conference game at 6:45 p.m.
The Maroons play Havre and Missoula Loyola on Saturday
Thatcher said the Maroons will approach the tournament the same way they would if they still had a chance to qualify for state.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard, focusing on the things we can focus on, get better at taking grounders, catching flies, hitting the ball,” she said. “Basics.”
The coach also said the Maroons will on having fun.
“I think we’ve lost sight of why we play this game,” she said. “You’re supposed to enjoy it. You’re supposed to have fun. Obviously, losing isn’t fun, but we’ve got to get back to that point when we play and it’s fun.”
Corvallis 102 025 7 — 17 15 1
Butte Central 021 052 0 — 10 10 8
Macee Greenwood, Gabb Krueger (5), Greenwood (5) and Sami Knapp; Makala Doherty, Maci Reopelle (6), Doherty (7) and Emma Keeley, Cassidy Strizic (6), Keeley (7). W — Greenwood. L — Reopelle.
CORVALLIS — Greenwood 2-4, Maria Hickey 1-4, Ashlynn Nixon 2-3, Knapp 4-5, Daphney Reynoso 1-5, Megan Bradshaw 1-4, Oliva Powell 0-0, Cierra Jessop 1-5, Carla Soto-Guerra 0-1, Krueger 3-5, Katelyn Bayner 0-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-8, 2-5) — Sofee Thatcher 1-3, Zoe Doherty 1-4, Gracie Wall 0-0, Keeley 1-3, Lexis Earles 0-1, Strizic 2-3, Reopelle 3-5, Maddie Kump 1-2, M. Doherty 0-2, Brenna Foley 1-2, Maggie Stimatz 0-1.
HR — Nixon 2, Jessop. 2B — Krueger; Keeley, Strizic, Reopelle. RBIs — Knapp 4, Nixon 3, Greenwood, Reyoso, Bradshaw, Jessop; Z. Doherty 2, Foley 2, M. Doherty 2, Kump.