By Bruce Sayler
Frenchtown beat Butte Central 15-1 in softball Friday and it was an earned win.
The Broncs’ victory came in the late shift at Stodden Park during Butte Central’s annual LaVerne Combo Invitational tournament. The monstrous 32-team tournament, with games being played at Stodden and Father Sheehan parks, as well as at the Longfellow complex, continues on Saturday. Class A and B-C teams are involved.
Frenchtown erupted for eight runs in the top of the fifth inning to widen the lead over the Maroons to 15-1. The Broncs’ pitcher, Claire Bagnell, set the BC batters down in order in the last of the inning and Frenchtown won on the 10-run difference rule.
“Frenchtown is good,” Butte Central head coach Kelci Thatcher said. “But, I’m proud of our effort. It was just a game in which they out-hit us. We didn’t beat ourselves. It was not like our previous games have been with error after error. Frenchtown has depth, we don’t and that was the difference.”
The Maroons had the first lead. After starting pitcher Makala Doherty coerced the first three Frenchtown batters to hit balls to shortstop Maci Reopelle for outs — two popups around a groundout — BC took its first swings.
Sofee Thatcher beat out an infield hit and was bunted to second base on a sacrifice by Zoe Doherty. After a groundout, Emma Keeley clubbed a double to left field and Thatcher scored.
However, the lead disappeared rapidly and forever.
Taylor Garren drew a walk to start the second inning and Makaela Field lined a base hit off the pitcher’s glove and into center field. Bagnell bunted the runners ahead a bag with her sacrifice. Hailey Arthur smacked a double into the left-center gap to plate both Garren and Field. The Broncs had a 2-1 lead.
Arthur scored an out later on a base hit by Kendra Williams, who soon scored on a throwing error while Cassidy Bagnell reached on an infield hit.
Claire Bagnell shut Butte Central out the rest of the way, but Southwestern A Conference-leading Frenchtown scored in each of the three ensuing innings.
One was tallied in the third as Layne Bauer got on base on an error, took second on a walk, third on a groundout and came home on an infield hit by Claire Bagnell.
The Broncs’ 5-1 gap widened to 7-1 with two runs in the fourth frame. Williams led off with a walk and Cassidy Bagnell followed with a bunt single. A fine play by third baseman Madison Kump erased Williams at third base. Kump dove for a bunt by Field, but was just short of making the catch. She trapped the loose ball and rolled on the ground to flip it to Reopelle covering third for the forceout. A few minutes later, though, the runners advanced on a wild pitch. After a strikeout,, a bad-hop single by Garren loaded the bases and then Cassidy Moen delivered a two-run single to center field.
The Broncs collected eight hits in their eight-run fifth. Hallie Habeck’s two-run blast after Arthur dinked a single into left field ignited the uprising. Field came through with a run-scoring single and Bauer bashed an RBI double. Moen knocked in one run with a single, but an error in chasing down the play plated another. Habeck and Williams each singled in a run before the inning ended.
Frenchtown pounded 17 hits, led by Moen and Williams going a combined 6-for-7 with six RBIs. Claire Bagnell struck out three batters and walked one.
Makala Doherty had four strikeouts and three walks for the Maroons before being relieved by Reopelle in the fifth. BC batted six hits, including two by Thatcher. Cassidy Strizic and Keeley each stroked doubles. Kump had a single. The BC girls defeated Laurel 7-2 earlier Friday in tourney play.
“I was proud of the girls and the way they kept battling and kept playing,” coach Thatcher said. “We got better today and we didn’t take any steps backwards. We’re closer to where we want to be as a program.”
The coach also liked the toughness exhibited with Makala Doherty working her innings on a gimpy knee and Reopelle getting up after being shaken up in the collision at third base where she completed the force play on the flip from the grounded Kump.
The game was a Southwestern A Conference counter at 2-6 in conference and 3-9 for the season. The Maroons will play Havre at 12:30 and Missoula Loyola at 6:45 in Saturday games at Stodden Park as the LaVerne Combo tourney finished its two-day run.
Frenchtown 041 28x x — 15 17 0
Butte Central 100 00x x — 1 5 3
Claire Bagnell and Kendra Williams. Makala Doherty, Maci Reopelle (5) and Emma Keeley. W — Claire Bagnell. L — M. Doherty
FRENCHTOWN — Cassidy Bagnell 2-3, Madison LaTray 0-0, MiKaela Field 1-4, Layne Bauer 1-4, Taylor Garren 1-2, Cassidy Moen 3-4, Claire Bagnell 2-3, Hailey Arthur 2-4, Hallie Habeck 2-4, Kendra Williams 3-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-9, 2-6) — Sofee Thatcher 2-3, Zoe Doherty 0-2, Emma Keeley 1-3, Lexis Earles 0-0, Cassidy Strizic 1-2, Maci Reopelle 0-2, Madison Kump 1-2, Makala Doherty 0-2, Brenna Foley 1-1, Maggie Stimatz 0-2.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Arthur, Bauer, Claire Bagnell, Strizic, Keeley. HR — Habeck.
Runs batted in — Frenchtown 14 (Moen 3, Habeck 3, Arthur 2, Williams 2, Cassidy Bagnell 1, Field 1, Bauer 1, Claire Bagnell 1), Butte Central 1 (Strizic).