Bulldogs ground Hawks in sweep

Senior pitcher Jessica Robertson struck out 19 batters over two games and Butte High ended a doubleheader sweep over Bozeman with the day’s only double play in Class AA high school softball play Tuesday at Stodden Park.

The twin killing came off the bat of Bozeman No.3 batter Dani Daley with one out and two Hawks on base. It was, a chopper fielded by third baseman Maria Michelotti for a force out at the bag before she fired across the diamond to first baseman Bobbie Osterman for the out on Daley.

The play secured the 7-0, 13-2 sweep. The first game counted in the Eastern AA Conference standings, but the second was a non-league contest.

In between Robertson’s pitching and the errorless defense the Bulldogs played through the twin bill, was some mighty and reliable hitting as Butte High played its last home game of the regular season and honored the team’s seniors.

Junior second baseman Ashten McCloskey led the hitting attack with two home runs, one in each tilt — including a grand slam in the second –, as she drove in seven runs in a 5-for-6 overall plate performance.

The six seniors honored, with their parents, between games were Kendall Alley, Morgan Bagley, Ashton LaFond, Osterman, Robertson and Baylee Thatcher.

“I am extremely happy with the hitting,” Steve Stosich, head coach of the Bulldogs, said. “We would’ve hit even better if we’d swung at pitches in the zone more. But we still hit well — hit some long balls and some base-hit bunts.”

The coach was happy, too, with the tough pitching of his ace. Robertson worked complete games on both ends of the doubleheader, limiting the Hawks to two hits while striking out 11 and walking one in the conference game, then striking out eight, walking one and effectively scattering six hits in the second contest.

“Jessi was stellar again,” Stosich said about the senior hurler, who has fanned 43 batters over her last 26 innings of work.

“We’ll continue to work on fielding, hitting and pitching,” Stosich said, talking about the remaining games on the schedule, which will all be on the road, starting with a non-conference clash at Missoula Sentinel next Tuesday. “It’s no doubt that we play with effort.”

McCloskey continued a bit of a tear she began in league series in Billings last weekend. She had battled a cold bat the first part of the season and found herself being moved around in the order because of it. She’s welcomed the hits with relief.

“I hit pretty well this game,” she said, modestly, after the twin bill. “I was in a little bit of a slump this year. I just kept practicing my hitting. I have to learn to stay back on the ball and recognize pitches earlier.”

McCloskey said the key to the turnaround has been learning some patience in the batter’s box.

The wins lifted Butte High to records of 9-8 overall and 6-4 in conference. The Bulldogs were never behind in either game. They are contending for a host role in the nearing state playoffs.

Butte High 7, Bozeman 0
Butte High scored two runs in each of the first three innings, the first four tallies coming on two-run homers by Michelotti and McCloskey. Michelotti’s was a one-out shot lined over the right-center field fence with Amanda Spear aboard via an error. McCloskey cleared the right-field fence after Thatcher singled to lead off the Bulldog half of the second inning.

Butte High cashed in on some Bozeman errors for two runs in the third. Spear was hit by a pitch and took second on a wild pitch. Osterman’s flyball to right field was dropped, allowing Spear to score. Back-to-back two-out singles by Thatcher and McCloskey advanced and scored Osterman.

McCloskey led off the bottom of the sixth by beating out an infield hit , took second on a groundout and scored the game’s last run on a throwing error after Alley’s ground ball was fielded.

Bozeman pitcher Hope Titchbourne, a freshman, went the distance, striking out six, walking none and allowing seven hits, but was betrayed by her team’s three errors. The Hawks’ hits were a leadoff double by Sydney Stites and a fourth-inning single by Daley, who was thrown out by Michelotti, the Butte High game one catcher, trying to steal second base.

Bozeman 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Butte High 222 001 x — 7 7 0
Hope Titchbourne and Dani Daley. Jessica Robertson and Maria Michelotti. W — Robertson. L — Titchbourne.
BOZEMAN — Sydney Stites 1-3, Nichole Chimbos 0-3, Dani Daley 1-2, Kaley Wenzel 0-3, Hailey Buckley 0-3, Ava Laufenberg 0-2, Hope Titchbourne 0-2, Alyssa Hickman 0-2, Savannah Davis 0-2.
BUTTE HIGH (8-8, 6-4) — Morgan Bagley 0-2, Ashton LaFond 1-1, Amanda Spear 0-3, Maria Michelotti 1-3, Bobbie Osterman 0-3, Bethany McLean 0-3, Baylee Thatcher 2-3, Ashten McCloskey 3-3, Justyce Connole 0-2, Ellie Hoffenbacker 0-1, Kendall Alley 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Stites. HR — Michelotti, McCloskey.
Runs Batted In — Bozeman 0, Butte High 5 (McCloskey 3, Michelotti 2).

Butte High 13, Bozeman 2
The game ended in the fifth inning because of the 10-run difference rule.

t was only a 4-2 game until Butte High exploded for nine runs in the last of the fourth inning. The Bulldogs had built a 4-0 advantage through two innings before seeing Bozeman halve it in the fourth.

Bagley knocked in Butte High’s first two runs with a bases-loaded single in the first inning, plating Spear, who had walked, and Osterman, who had doubled.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on base hits by Justyce Connole and McCloskey, and Spear reaching on a fielder’s choice. Connole then strode home on a walk issued to Michelotti, and Osterman’s ground ball brought home McCloskey.

The Hawks’ in-Butte scoreless streak ended at 10 innings in the fourth. Daley singled to the infield on a tough-to-reach short flyball, advanced to second and scored on a base hit to center by Kaley Wenzel. Wenzel went to second on a groundout and third when Ava Laufenberg cued a base hit over first base. Titchbourne’s groundball tallied Wenzel.

The Bulldogs took offense to Bozeman’s comeback and got offensive in the fourth, but with some help from their opponents. McCloskey and Spear were both hit by pitches. Michelotti batted in McCloskey with a single up the middle. Osterman grounded a double through center field that drove in both Spear and Michelotti. Bethany McLean drew a walk. The Hawks botched Bagley’s sacrifice bunt and Osterman scored. LaFond walked to load the bases.

After an out, Alley’s grounder was booted, which let McLean score and kept the bags full. McCloskey then blasted her grand slam over the center-field fence. Spear followed with a single before Bozeman was able to get out of the inning.
Bozeman again committed three errors and Titchbourne struck out five and walked five while giving up nine hits in her four innings in the circle. Stites led Bozeman at the bats with a 3-for-3 outing. The young Hawks have just one senior on their roster — first baseman Nichole Chimbos.

Bozeman 000 20x x — 2 6 3
Butte High 220 9xx x — 13 9 0
Hope Titchbourne and Ava Laufenberg. Jessica Robertson and Bethany McLean. W — Robertson. L — Titchbourne.
BOZEMAN — Sydney Stites 3-3, Nichole Chimbos 0-3, Dani Daley 1-3, Kaley Wenzel 1-2, Hailey Buckley 0-2, Ava Laufenberg 1-2, Hope Titchbourne 0-2, Alyssa Hickman 0-2, Savannah Davis 0-1.
BUTTE HIGH (9-8) — Ashten McCloskey 2-3, Amanda Spear 1-2, Maria Michelotti 1-3, Bobbi Osterman 2-4, Bethany McLean 0-0, Morgan Bagley 1-2, Ashton LaFond 1-2, Justyce Connole 1-3, Kendall Alley 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Osterman 2, Stites. HR — McCloskey (GS).
Runs batted In — Bozeman 2 (Wenzel 1, Titchbourne 1), Butte High 11 (McCloskey 4, Osterman 3, Michelotti 2, Bagley 2).

Bulldog Ashten McCloskey fist bumps Butte High assistant coach Ryan Stosich while rounding third base on her two-run jack.

Bulldog third baseman Baylee Thatcher makes a nice play in the field.

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