The Butte High softball team has only missed qualifying for the Class AA State tournament once in the eight years Steve Stosich has been the head coach.
For the Bulldogs, though, it feels like an eternity since they played in a State tournament game. That was two years ago when the Bulldogs went to Billings and brought home their title.
The Bulldogs are back at State, starting at 2 p.m. Thursday when they take on Kalispell Glacier at the Mulit-Sports Complex in Great Falls. All Butte High tournament games will be carried live on KBOW, 500 AM. Click here to listen online.
Glacier is the No. 1 seed from the Western AA Conference. The Wolfpack received a bye into the State tournament.
Butte High is the No. 4 seed from the Eastern AA. Butte High earned the trip by sweeping Billings Senior in a playoff series last week in Butte.
Glacier won the Western AA title with a 10-2 record. The Wolfpack is 15-4 overall. Glacier hasn’t played since May 9 when it pounded Kalispell Flathead 16-1 and 13-8.
Freshman Ali Williams paced second-year coach Ashley Fusaro’s big-hitting club that day. Williams went 3 for 9 with a home run and five RBIs in the twin bill.
Butte High enters the tournament at 13-8 overall after going 7-5 in conference.
Junior pitcher Jessica Robertson, who owns 11 of Butte High’s wins, is the clear ace of the Bulldogs. She got the win in both playoff games. She also showed her resiliency, shaking off a six-run second inning by allowing only three base runners the rest of the way in Game 2 of the sweep.
Robertson racked up 114 strikeouts compared to 26 walks on the season. Junior Bobbie Osterman is the only other pitcher to log varsity innings this season. (Butte High pitching stats)
Senior center fielder Hattie Thatcher leads a Butte High offense that hits .309 as a team. Thatcher, the speedy leadoff hitter, hit .417 during the regular season. (Butte High batting stats)
Sophomore Ashten McCloskey is the No. 2 hitter, followed by sophomore catcher Maria Michelotti, junior Baylee Thatcher, Osterman and senior Katey Walsh in the Butte High lineup. At least that’s the way the lineup was for the playoffs.
Ashton LaFond, the No. 7 hitter, highlights a bottom of the order that Stosich said he would compare to any other team in the state.
LaFond hit a two-run home run that proved to be the difference in Game 2 against Senior.
Sophomore Shaelyn Hafer, junior Megan Ingersoll, sophomore Justyce Connole and senior Audriana Baker took spots as the bottom of the order hitters last week.
Senior Nikki Guizzo, who started most games at designated hitter, is also a dangerous bat for the Bulldogs. Speedy junior Kendall Alley is Butte High’s go-to pinch runner.
The Bulldogs didn’t play Glacier in the regular season.
Butte High’s second game of the double-elimination tournament will be at 10 a.m. or noon on Friday (tournament bracket). Of course, the schedule is subject to change with rain in the forecast.