Dogs buck Broncs, heading back to State

For Jessica Robertson, this was a day that was a year in the making.

The Butte High junior pitcher went the distance in both games Thursday at a rainy, cold Stodden Park, and the Butte High softball team beat Billings Senior 4-2 and 7-6 to advance to the Class AA State tournament.

“I kind of had to redeem myself in a way,” Robertson said Thursday. “I was excited. This was my first playoff game.”

Robertson (11-5) was having a big season as a sophomore last year. Not long before Butte High’s home playoff series with CMR, though, she was hit by a car while riding her bike. She suffered a concussion and had to watch as the Bulldogs saw their season end shy of State.

“It does mean a lot more to me, and I think it means a lot more to the girls who were there last year,” said Robertson who struck out 10 batters in her 14 innings of work. “I could help them out and they could help me out.”

Actually, Thursday was pretty much a day all of the Bulldogs had waited for a long time to come.

The win secured the Bulldogs’ seventh trip to State in eight seasons under head coach Steve Stosich.

When the Bulldogs open next Thursday in Great Falls, it will be their first State title game since they won it all in 2011.

“It’s pretty important for our program,” Stosich said, pointing out that his team finished fourth place or higher in each of its trips to State. “It’s really big going this year, especially having missed last year. We obviously could have gone last year. If we would have had Jess we would have gone.”

The hit that made sure the Bulldogs are going to the big dance came from their No. 7 hitter.

Junior right fielder Ashton LaFond blasted a two-out, two run home run to center field in the top of the fifth inning of the second game. (Butte High was home team in the opener and visitor in the second game.)

The blast put the Bulldogs up 7-6, proving to be the game winner.

For Robertson, the blast lifted a weight off her back.

“It was a great feeling,” the pitcher said. “It was a feeling of relief. We knew it right when it hit the bat.”

The home run was the third of the season for LaFond.

“There’s a game winner right there,” Stosich said. “She has power potential. She got the right pitch and drove it to the right place.”

Billings Senior made some noise with some long balls of their own in the second inning of the second game.

Morgan McKenzie hit a two run blast to cut Butte High’s lead to 3-2. The next batter, Anna Paine, smacked a home run to tie the game. Then Jeanann Lemelin smacked a three-run home run to give the Broncs a 6-3 lead.

In all, Senior sent 10 batters to the plate in the six-run second inning. The Broncs only had three more base runners the rest of the game.

“How do you figure that?” Stosich asked. “They hit home runs like that in one inning and then … nothing.”

Robertson, who has a plate in her wrist from surgery in August, said she stuck with her game plan.

“I just had to keep sticking with what I was doing and my team came behind me and started hitting a little better, too,” she said.

Baylee Thatcher and Ashten McCloskey each drove in a pair of runs for the Bulldogs in the second game. McCloskey went 3 for 4, as did Katey Walsh.

Maria Michelotti doubled, while Hattie Thatcher singled.

Butte High also made several nice plays defensively. None was better than the full-out Super Man dive Baylee Thatcher made to catch a foul pop by Kristin Kaiser for the second out in the seventh.

The Bulldogs came from behind to win the opener, too.

Kaiser walked and scored on a McKenzie Morgan single in the bottom of the first inning.

Butte, though, took the lead for good with three runs in the third.

Justyce Connole, the No. 9 hitter for Butte High, Hattie Thatcher and McCloskey singled to load the bases.

The first two runs scored when Maria Michelotti hustled and nearly beat out an infield single. Senior second baseman Sarah Bonner dove to force the out. The damage, though was done.

McCloskey scored on an error to make it 3-1.

Connole doubled and scored on a Hattie Thatcher single to make it 4-1 in the fourth.

The Broncs rallied in the top of the seventh, cutting the lead to 4-2 when Kim Bray singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kaiser.

Robertson, though, struck out Megan Olness, Senior’s No. 3 hitter, with runners on second and third to end the game.

Hattie Thatcher went 3 for 3 to lead the Butte High eight-hit attack. McCloskey joined Connole with a two-hit game, while Walsh smacked a single.

Butte High improved to 13-8 on the season. Senior closes the year at 9-14.

Ashton LaFond’s two-out, two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning proved to be the game winner for Butte High.

Game 1 BILLINGS SENIOR BRON AB R H BI BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS AB R H BI
Jeanann Lemelin       4  0  1  0  Hattie Thatcher       3  1  3  1  
Kristin Kaiser        2  1  0  1  Ashten McCloskey      3  1  2  0  
Megan Olness          4  0  0  0  Maria Michelotti      3  0  0  2  
Sarah Bonner          2  0  0  0  Baylee Thatcher       3  0  0  0  
McKenzie Morgan       3  0  2  0  Bobbie Osterman       3  0  0  0  
Anna Paine            3  0  0  0  Katey Walsh           3  0  1  0  
Kim Bray              2  1  1  0  Ashton LaFond         2  0  0  0  
Jasmine Lee           3  0  1  0  Shealyn Hafer         1  0  0  0  
Kaelee Massey         2  0  0  0   Megan Ingersoll      2  0  0  0  
                                  Justyce Connole       3  2  2  0  
TOTALS               25  2  5  1  TOTALS               26  4  8  3
BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS 100 000 1 -- 2 BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS 003 100 x -- 4  
LOB--BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS 7, BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS 5.
ERR--Megan Olness, Jessica Robertson. 2B--Justyce Connole.
HBP--Kaelee Massey, Sarah Bonner, Kim Bray, Ashton LaFond.
SACF--Kristin Kaiser. BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS IP H R ER BB SO HR
McKenzie Morgan (L)               6    8    4    3    0    6    0
 BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS        
Jessica Robertson (W)             7    5    2    1    1    7    0
PB--Kristin Kaiser, Maria Michelotti. SO--Anna Paine (2),
Jeanann Lemelin, Kaelee Massey (2), McKenzie Morgan, Megan
Olness, Ashton LaFond (2), Justyce Connole, Megan Ingersoll,
Maria Michelotti, Shealyn Hafer. BB--Kristin Kaiser.
Game 2 BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS AB R H BI BILLINGS SENIOR BRON AB R H BI
Hattie Thatcher       3  1  1  1  Jeanann Lemelin       4  1  1  3  
Ashten McCloskey      4  1  3  2  Kristin Kaiser        4  0  0  0  
Maria Michelotti      4  1  1  0  Megan Olness          4  0  1  0  
Baylee Thatcher       3  0  0  2  Sarah Bonner          3  1  0  0  
Bobbie Osterman       3  0  0  0  McKenzie Morgan       3  1  1  2  
Katey Walsh           4  1  3  0  Anna Paine            3  1  1  1  
Ashton LaFond         4  1  1  2  Kim Bray              1  0  0  0  
Audriana Baker        2  1  0  0   Kelsey Ripley        2  0  0  0  
 Kendall Alley        0  1  0  0  Jasmine Lee           3  1  1  0  
Justyce Connole       2  0  0  0  Kaelee Massey         3  1  1  0  
TOTALS               29  7  9  7  TOTALS               30  6  6  6
BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS 210 220 0 -- 7 BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS 060 000 0 -- 6  
LOB--BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS 6, BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS 3.
ERR--Katey Walsh, Baylee Thatcher (2), Anna Paine, Sarah
Bonner, McKenzie Morgan. 2B--Maria Michelotti, Megan Olness.
3B--Ashten McCloskey. HR--Ashton LaFond, Anna Paine, Jeanann
Lemelin, McKenzie Morgan. SACB--Justyce Connole.
 BUTTE HIGH BULLDOGS IP H R ER BB SO HR
Jessica Robertson (W)             7    6    6    5    0    3    3
 BILLINGS SENIOR BRONCS  
Sarah Bonner (L)                  7    9    7    4    4    1    1
PB--Kristin Kaiser (2). SO--Justyce Connole, Anna Paine (2),
Sarah Bonner. BB--Audriana Baker, Baylee Thatcher, Bobbie
Osterman, Hattie Thatcher.
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2 Comments

  • A FAN
    May 16, 2013, 9:54 pm

    THANKS BILL. I WAS THERE FOR AS LONG AS I COULD STAY. HAVE TO B CAREFUL NOT TO GET SICK NOW. WENT TO THE TRUCK AND FELL ASLEEP LISTENING TO THE GAME. MISSED THE END. UR COVEAGE IS FANTASTIC AS ALWAYS

    REPLY
  • Yo Chi Boy
    May 16, 2013, 11:17 pm

    Great photos and story, Foley.

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