GREAT FALLS — A stumbling start to the day was too much for Butte High to overcome in early loser-out play Friday, especially when the Bulldogs’ struggles were complicated by timely Helena Capital hitting.
The Bruins beat Butte High 7-3, knocking the Bulldogs out of the state Class AA high school girls’ fast pitch softball tournament at the Great Falls Multi-Sports Complex.
Butte High was trying to rebound from a 1-0 first-round defeat at the hands of Kalispell Glacier in a pitchers’ duel and defensive gem during tournament first-round play on Thursday.
“We didn’t play very well the first half of the game,” a glum Steve Stosich, Bulldogs head coach, said after Friday’s loser-out loss. “How do you beat anybody with six errors? Defensively, we were hitting on zero cylinders. Offensively, we were hitting on zero cylinders.
“We didn’t get the job done.”
Jessica Robertson pitched the whole way for the Bulldogs and registered nine strikeouts against one walk. She gave up 10 hits, but only two for extra bases, both doubles.
The game was played on a bright, sunny, though windy day, at times studded with dramatic gusts.
Capital capitalized, it seemed, on every Butte High miscue and advanced to a 2 p.m. elimination-round game with defending champion C.M. Russell of Great Falls while keeping its title hopes intact.
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in their first at-bats and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Quinci Robertson, the game’s first batter, beat out an infield hit and went to third a batter later when Savannah Smith singled to right. McKenzie Johnston outraced an infield hit, which forced a throwing error, and both Robertson and Smith scored.
Capital added a run in the second as Kady Bartsch bashed a doubled, then got home on another Butte throwing error. The Bruins made it a 5-0 game in the third as Brittany Smith continued to deal a shutout. Haley Pardy singled to left and then Johnston belted an RBI double to right. Pardy took third as Sierra Bignell beat out an infield hit. Brittany Smith lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Johnston.
Bignell floated a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, scoring Sydney Laddas, who had singled, and the Helena club owned a 6-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs did not score until the seventh inning when they registered all three of their runs. Maria Michelotti and Baylee Thatcher stroked back-to-back singles and Bobbi Osterman worked a walk. Ashton LaFond’s one-out grouindout up the first-base line put Butte High on the board. Pinch-hitter Shealyn Hafer then whacked a two-run single before Smith got a strikeout to end the threat.
Johnston led off the top of the seventh with a single and then sped home on an errant throw she drew while stealing second base. The run gave Capital its 7-3 margin.
The Bulldogs had one last half inning in which to try to extend their season. Hattie Thatcher led off and popped out to the infield. McCloskey reached on an infield hit. Michelotti grounded into a fielder’s choice that forced McCloskey out at second base. Baylee Thatcher then was induced to pop out behind second base and the game was over.
“We hit the ball every inning (both games),” Stosich lamented. “But we couldn’t get anything going, couldn’t get it turned around.
“Then in the sixth, we had bases loaded with nobody out and we took a called third strike. We needed to be swinging — if it is close at all. Given the opportunity, umpires love to call that third strike. We can‘t leave it up to them.”
Butte High batters collected eight hits, all singles. Three were by McCloskey and Katey Walsh hit two. Hafer, Michelotti and Baylee Thatcher notched the other three.
Helena Capital 212 101 0 — 7 10 0
Butte High 000 003 0 — 3 8 4
Brittany Smith and Kyra Dorvall. Jessica Robertson and Maria Michelotti. W — B. Smith. L — J. Robertson.
HELENA CAPITAL — Quinci Robertson 1-4, Kyra Dorvall 0-4, Savannah Smith 2-3, Haley Pardy 1-3, McKenzie Johnston 3-4, Sierra Bignell 1-3, Destry McNellis 0-1, Brittany Smith 1-3, Kady Bartsch 1-4, Sydney Laddas 1-4.
BUTTE HIGH — Hattie Thatcher 0-4, Ashten McCloskey 3-4, Maria Michelotti 1-4, Baylee Thatcher 1-4, Bobbi Osterman 0-1, Katey Walsh 2-3, Ashton LaFond 0-3, Megan Ingersoll 0-2, Shealyn Hafer 1-1, Justyce Connole 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Johnston, Bartsch. RBIs — Johnston 3, Pardy, B. Smith; Hafer 2, LaFond.