By Bruce Sayler
Butte High’s softball win Saturday provided some needed warmth for home fans.
The 6-2 Western AA Conference victory over winless Missoula Hellgate was played partially in pure cold hell at Stodden Park.
Some snow, some hail and plenty of icy wind wreaked temporary and unwelcome havoc at the diamond as Montana’s high school softball season continued to be plagued by ugly weather.
Butte High head coach Ryan Stosich indicated he hoped for a better performance from the Bulldogs, regardless of the victory.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win,” he said. “Ashlinn Mullaney pitched all right and our defense was OK. We left too many runners on base.”
Mullaney, a freshman, limited Hellgate to four hits and struck out seven while pitching the distance. She allowed the Knights two walks and posted seven strikeouts. The Bulldogs committed only one error.
Senior catcher Jordyn Bolton slugged a double and sophomore third baseman Kamber Leary pounded a pair of singles to lead the Butte High offense. Speedy senior shortstop Kodie Hoagland beat out yet another infield hit, walked twice and executed a sacrifice bunt. She reached base all four times she came to the plate. Dacelyn LaFond came off the bench to poke two singles.
“Leary kind of got us going in the first inning and Jordyn had a nice double (in the fifth),” Stosich said. “What more can you say about what Kodie does? She’s amazing.”
Hoagland has become proficient at batting the ball to the left side of the infield and unleashing her speed to reach first base well ahead of an infielder’s throw.
Freshman Brityn Stewart sparkled on defense by nabbing a wind-whirled flyball while running in toward the infield.
The Bulldogs broke a 2-all tie in the bottom of the fourth inning to go ahead for good.
Hoagland walked to lead off and stole second base. Dacelyn LaFond followed with an infield hit that advanced Hoagland to third base. Another infield hit scored Hoagland with the go-ahead run as Mullaney reached first base. Rian Ferriter’s base hit to center field then drove LaFond home for a 4-2 Butte High advantage.
Bolton doubled to start her team’s half of the fifth inning, moved to third on a groundout and came home on a sacrifice fly by Maddi Jonart for a 5-2 Butte High lead. The Bulldogs’ last run was plated in the bottom of the sixth inning as Hoagland raced for her infield hit, stole second base, wqent to third on a groundout and came home on a Hellgate throwing error when the first baseman was pulled off the bag.
The Knights had the first lead of the day, going up 1-0 in their first at-bats of the game. Maddy Petrino was safe on an error to start the tilt, then rode home on a double by Shannon Kane.
The edge lasted until Butte High took its first swings. Hoagland walked and scored as Leary singled with the bases-loaded on fielder’s choices. A walk to Bolton forced Mullaney home from third for a 2-1 Butte High lead.
Hellgate caught up in the top of the third, tallying a run as Petrino singled, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and loped home on a base hit up the middle by Kane.
Then, Butte High snapped the tie in the fourth on the way to improving its records to 6-8 for the season and 6-4 in conference. The Bulldogs are next scheduled to play on Tuesday with a pair of home non-conference games at Stodden Park. They are slated to play Gallatin High of Bozeman at 1:45 p,m. and then Bozeman High at 3:30.
Hellgate is now 0-16 and 0-8.
Hellgate 101 000 0 — 2 4 1
Butte High 200 211 x — 6 10 1
Maddy Petrino, Tahina Samuela (6) and Jenna James. Ashlinn Mullaney and Jordyn Bolton. W – Mullaney. L – Petrino.
MISSOULA HELLGATE (0-16, 0-8) — Maddy Petrino 2-4, Shannon Kane 2-4, Faith Soden 0-4, Sin Gervais 0-2, Jenna James 0-2, Tahina Samuela 0-3, Kaija Nagle 0-2, Sarah Ratz 0-2, Elyce Fortney 0-1, Esther Boelman 0-3.
BUTTE HIGH (6-8, 6-4) — Kodie Hoagland 1-1, Bryn Godbout 0-2, Dacelyn LaFond 2-2, Ashlinn Mullaney 1-3, Rian Ferriter 1-4, Natalie Lynch 0-0, Kamber Leary 2-4, Jordyn Bolton 1-2, Sophie Radcliffe 0-0, Taylor Drakos 0-0, Madisyn Swanson 1-3, Maddi Jonart 0-0, Joscelyn Cleveland 1-2, Cami Kautzman 0-1, Brityn Stewart 0-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Kane, Petrino, Bolton.
Runs batted in – Hellgate 2 (Kane 2), Butte High 5 (Mullaney, Ferriter, Leary, Bolton, Jonart).