Bulldogs put season on the line

It all comes down to this for the Butte High softball team.

The Bulldogs will play Billings Skyview in a best-of-three Eastern AA playoff series Thursday at Stodden Park.

Action begins at 1 p.m. The second game is set for 3, while a third game, if necessary, will be at 5.

The winner advances to the Class AA State tournament, which is next week in Great Falls. The loser is done. Butte High is the No. 4 seed with a 6-6 in conference and 10-10 overall. Skyview is the No. 5 seed.

The Falcons and Bulldogs played a pair of doubleheaders this season. The teams split the two conference games, but the Falcons won three out of four games against the Bulldogs in the regular season.

Butte High will send senior ace Jessica Robertson for all three games if necessary. The Dawson Community College signee is 10-8 on the season.

The Bulldog senior posted a 2.32 ERA in the regular season. She struck out 154 batters and walked 39.

Bulldog coach Steve Stosich says Robertson is much better than her record might indicate. He pointed to a 1-0 loss to Great Falls Russell and a 3-2 loss to Billings West.

“She has been tremendous for us this year,” Stosich said. “Her record doesn’t really show how good she is. She had some tough losses.”

Robertson will be facing a lineup full of hitters. Bekah Ellis hit two home runs the last time the Falcons played at Stodden. Shaelyn Bachini, Tyler Fleury, Alicia Stoner and Erika Hall each hit one.

The Falcons will likely send Kassie Soelters to the pitchers’ circle to face the Bulldogs, who are batting .283 as a team.

Catcher Maria Michelotti leads the Bulldogs with a .379 batting average. She also hit a team-leading five home runs and six doubles in the regular season.

Michelotti will bat No. 3 in the Bulldog lineup behind second baseman Ashten McCloseky, who has been on a tear and hitting .344, and designated hitter Amanda Spear, who is batting .338.

First baseman Bobbie Osterman, who is the backup pitcher, will be in the five hole with her .323 average, while third baseman Baylee Thatcher is hitting .289 and will bat fifth.

Shortstop Bethany McLean is batting .279 and will bat sixth. Right fielder Morgan Bagley is hitting .319 and will bat seventh.

Justyce Connole, whom Stosich calls a “great” defender in center field, bats eighth. Kendall Alley will play left field and bat ninth.

Ashton LaFond, McKenzie Joseph, Abby Burke and Ellie Hoffenbacker could also contribute for the Bulldogs.

Stosich said his team is confident heading into the playoff series. He says this is a moment the Bulldogs have been striving for since they started hitting in open gym in November.

“We can play with anybody — anybody,” Stosich said. “We’ve got to get through Skyview first and get the opportunity to play those other teams.”

Butte High batting stats

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