The winning side to Ryan Stosich’s career softball record is off and running, thanks to a 15-10 Butte High win over Belgrade in a non-conference high school game played Tuesday at Stodden Park.
The young Bulldogs were rewarded with a successful day following three losses to Class AA non-conference opponents to begin the 2015 slate.
Leadoff hitter Ashten McCloskey drove in four runs, two on a towering home run over the center field fence, while collecting three hits to lead the win. Fellow seniors Maria Michelotti and Amanda Spear also whapped three hits apiece and promising freshman pitcher Kaidy McClafferty walked only two batters as she also chalked up her first career win. Junior Isabelle Bonney played a solid game at third base and drove in what proved to be the winning run with a single in the sixth.
Stosich succeeded his father, Steve Stosich, at the helm this season as the two traded spots on the staff.
What was important coming out of the win against Class A Belgrade, Ryan Stosich said was the resilience his team showed.
The Panthers were playing their season opener and fell behind Butte High 6-0 early, then battled back to eventually forge 8-all and 10-all ties.
“We could have just easily have thrown the towel in, but, instead the girls came out and hit the ball,” the coach said. “Ashten hit the ball well for us, and Michelotti and Spear both hit. We know we’re going to have to score more runs.”
The seniors led the way on a team that saw four freshman starters take to the field. Mistakes were relatively few, but “we still have to clean up some things,” Stosich pointed out. “There were some little errors.”
McClafferty shut Belgrade out the first two innings while striking out six. She was unable to fan any more Panthers the rest of the way, but key was that she did stay in the rest of the way even though Belgrade batters proved to be troublesome.
The Bulldogs took a 5-0 lead in the first inning as jitters might have been a negative factor for Belgrade, and Butte High also hit the ball pretty well from the start. McCloskey bunted her way on to lead off the Bulldog half of the first and Justyce Connole was hit by a Judy Taylor pitch. Michelotti reached on an error and the bases were loaded. Spear singled in a run and the bases stayed full. Freshman Kennedi Ferriter pasted a two-run single and then Ellie Hoffenbacker was hit by a pitch to refill the bags. After a strikeout, Katelyn Alley drew a walk to force in a run and keep the bases loaded and then McCloskey, batting for the second time in the inning, was safe on an error as Ferriter scored from third base.
The Bulldogs scored in the second when Hoffenbacker lofted a bases-loaded sacrifice fly with one out, scoring Michelotti, who singled to start the bottom of the frame.
Belgrade came back with four runs in the top of the third. Skyler Neubauer reached on a one-out infield hit and Taylor singled to left. Jordan Branch singled to center to pack the sacks and a strike from Connole in center field to Michelotti behind the plate kept Neubauer from trying to go home on the hit. However, Hannah Goulet cleared the bases with a single to center that scooted past the outfielders, scoring three runs. Goulet went to third on the play and scored on a groundout by Kindall Bethke. McClafferty induced an infield popup to get out of the inning.
Butte High got two of the runs back for an 8-4 lead in the bottom of the third. Freshman Jenna Maroney mashed a triple to right field and came home on a ground-rule double by McCloskey. McCloskey took third one out later on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michelotti.
The Panthers tied the score 8-all with a four-run fifth inning after both teams were held scoreless in the fourth. Neubauer doubled to left and Taylor walked to start the inning. One out later, Goulet singled Neubauer home. An error in the outfield let the runners move up and both then scored on a base hit by Bethke. She continued on another miscue in the outfield and wound up at third base, scoring soon after on a sacrifice fly by Shania Neubauer.
McClafferty got out of the inning on a comebacker.
The Butte High fifth was worth two runs and a 10-8 edge as McCloskey unloaded her one-out home run a batter after Alley led off with an infield hit.
Belgrade answered in the sixth with a two-run shot by freshman No. 9 batter Tyler Atwood. It traveled over the left-field fence with Shaina Krone aboard via a walk.McClafferty retired the next three batters on two groundouts and a strikeout.
Her Butte High teammates got her the lead, this time for good, in the last of the sixth with a five-run surge. Alyssa Walsh singled to left and Jenna Walker drew a walk. One out later, Bonney singled to center, scoring Walsh with the go-ahead run. Walker then went home as McCloskey bounced into a fielder’s choice that erased Bonney at second base. After a wild pitch, Connole knocked in McCloskey with a single to center. McCloskey was safe on a play at the plate and a throw to second to try get Connole sailed into center field. Connole raced home on the error. Michelotti singled to center and was batted in by Spear with a base hit before the Bulldogs were retired.
McClafferty set the Panthers down in order in the seventh on two flyballs and a popup. Walker’s snare of Shania Nebauer’s flyball at the fence in right saved a home run to end the game.
“Every year they’ve faced us, Belgrade has given us a good game,” Stosich said. “They might have had a slow start because it was their first game, but Belgrade gave us a game. They hit the ball well.”
Skyler Neubauer led the Panthers with three hits while Goulet and Bethke knocked home three runs apiece.
McClafferty finished with seven strikeouts against only two walks. She yielded 10 hits and five earned runs.
Belgrade 004 042 0 — 10 10 4
Butte High 512 025 x — 15 16 4
Judy Taylor, Shania Neubauer (4) and Kindall Bethke. Kaidy McClafferty and Maria Michelotti. W — McClafferty (1-2). L — Shania Neubauer (0-1).
BELGRADE (0-1) — Skyler Neubauer 3-4, Judy Taylor 1-3, Jordan Branch 1-4, Hannah Goulet 2-4, Kindall Bethke 1-4, Bri Rollins 0-0, Maddie Cade 0-2, Shania Neubauer 0-1, Jenny Maczewski 1-2, Nickie Shatesch 0-1, Anna Cox 0-2, Shaina Krone 0-0, Ty Atwood 1-2.
BUTTE HIGH (1-3) — Ashten McCloskey 3-5, Justyce Connole 1-5, Maria Michelotti 3-4, Amanda Spear 3-4, Madison Joseph 0-0, Kennedi Ferriter 2-5, Ellie Hoffenbacker 0-1, Alyssa Walsh 1-1, Jenna Walker 0-2, Tristan Walks 0-2, Katelyn Alley 1-3, Isabelle Bonney 1-3, Jenna Maroney 1-1.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Skyler Neubauer, McCloskey. 3B — Maroney. HR — Atwood, McCloskey (1).
Runs batted in — Belgrade 9 (Goulet 3, Bethke 3, Atwood 2, Shania Neubauer 1), Butte High 13 (McCloskey 4, Spear 2, Ferriter 2, Connole 1, Michelotti 1, Hoffenbacker 1, Alley 1, Bonney 1).