By Bruce Sayler
Leftover winter and Hamilton pitcher Brynne Johnson both put a big chill into Butte Central’s softball team Saturday at Stodden Park.
Johnson pitched a no-hitter as the Broncs belted the Maroons 12-0 in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ game. Conditions featured frequent snow squalls with cold bursts and flows of wind. It was consistent with what has been seen game days in Butte all season so far.
The game was called after the fifth inning on the 10-run difference rule.
The BC inexperience was in play, too, as Butte Central committed four physical errors and a spattering of mental ones brought on by a lack of varsity seasoning. Added to the woes for the home team was that Hamilton played well.
Johnson struck out seven batters and walked only one in her stint. The Maroons’ Hattie Mehring made the Broncs work for their runs, pitching to contact and giving up only the walks Hamilton squeezed out of her. The Broncs, though, banged out 11 hits, including doubles by Haylee McKinley, Addison Flynn and Delilah Beck.
“I’m proud of how Hattie threw,” Butte Central head coach Chunky Thatcher said. “The thing is, we are who we are, right now, until we teach the kids what we need them to do. Some of them are so new to this they don’t know where to throw the ball, yet.”
The Maroons are still without senior star Sofee Thacher, daughter of the coach, for at least about another week because of an injury. She normally is the team’s No. 1 pitcher and leadoff hitter.
The BC girls were charged with four errors Saturday, but they also registered two double plays – rare in a softball game. One saw left fielder Renee Creekmore catch a bases-loaded flyball by Madison Fischer to start a play that ended with center fielder Brenna Foley throwing to third baseman Jaeden Berger for a tagout that ended an eight-run Broncs inning in the third. The other double play was more typical, Mehring fielding Alyson Broad’s bags-full comebacker, firing home to catcher Mia Keeley for one out and Keeley relaying to first baseman Maggie Stimatz in time for the out on Broad. It finished a three-run Hamilton fourth inning.
“Hattie’s stepping up for us and we’re working on some stuff all the time,” Thatcher said. “The girls are learning.”
Mehring and Johnson dueled through two scoreless innings, setting batters down in order until Hamilton exploded in the third frame for eight runs. The Broncs did it on six hits and four BC errors. A hit-by-pitch and a base on balls were in the mix, too.
Johnson helped herself with a two-run single, McKinley clubbed a run-scoring double, and Broad hit two RBI singles. Beck also batted in a run with a base hit, Fischer tallied one with her sac fly and the other was scored via an error.
In the fourth, the Broncs scored three runs on three hits. Flynn and Beck clouted back-to-back doubles for a run, a wild pitch allowed one, and Johnson knocked the third home on a single.
Butte Central didn’t have a baserunner until the fourth inning when Foley and Keeley both reached on one-out errors. They were stranded by a strikeout and a foul-out.
Hamilton put up its last run in the fifth inning as Fischer led off with a single to right, took second base on a wild pitch and ran home two outs later on Cierra Cole’s base hit to left field.
The loss put the Maroons’ record at 1-4 for the season, including a 1-2 conference ledger. The BC girls are slated to be home again on Tuesday in their next action, a 3 p.m. league counter against East Helena at Stodden Park.
Hamilton is 1-3 for the season, 1-0 in Southwestern A.
Hamilton 008 31x x —12 11 2
Butte Central 000 00x x — 0 0 4
Brynne Johnson and Addison Flynn. Hattie Mehring and Mia Keeley. W – Johnson. L – Mehring.
HAMILTON (1-3, 1-0) — Addison Flynn 1-3, Delilah Beck 2-4, Cierra Cole 1-2, Maddy Ward 1-3, Brynne Johnson 2-3, Sierra Berry 0-0, Haylee McKinley 1-2, Katelyn Shepherd 0-2, Alyson Broad 2-3, Madison Fischer 1-2, Taylee Conley 0-0.
BUTTE CENTRAL (1-4, 1-2) — Brooke Badovinac 0-2, Brenna Foley 0-2, Mia Keeley 0-2, Jaeden Berger 0-2, Hattie Mehring 0-2, Renee Creekmore 0-2, Maggie Stimatz 0-1, Vanessa West 0-2, Krista Winnings 0-2.
Extra-base hits – 2B – McKinley, Flynn, Beck.
Runs batted in – Hamilton 9 (Johnson 3, Beck 2, Fischer 2, Cole 1, McKinley 1, Broad 1), Butte Central 0.