Eagles clip Bulldogs in eight

Butte High will chalk up Tuesday’s softball game as a learning experience.

The Bulldogs fell 11-10 in eight innings at Stodden Park. The game, which was the first full game for either team, doesn’t count in league standings, and it won’t hurt the Bulldogs one bit for losing it.

Butte High can also take solace in the fact that the girls went down fighting, scoring six runs in the eighth after giving up seven in the top of the inning.

Still, the Butte girls left the diamond feeling like they let one slip away.

“We had a chance to win it,” Bulldog coach Steve Stosich said. “We should have put it away in the seventh. We had the meat of our order up and we didn’t get the job done.”

Butte High also had a chance in the extra inning. One pitch after the go-ahead run was thrown out at second base, Ashten LaFond hit a rocket into the glove of Big Sky center fielder Talia Zook to end the game.

The tying runner — Maria Michelotti — could have crawled in with the tying run on a sacrifice fly had their only been two outs.

“You can’t just give outs away,” Stosich said.

Butte junior pitcher Jessica Robertson struck out 12 batters — 10 through the first seven innings. The Eagles, though, got to the Bulldog Ace in the eighth.

“She pitched decently,” Stosich said of Robertson. “She’s got to hit her spots a little better. She gets that up once in a while and gets in trouble.”

The Big Sky rally started with a walk. Then Lexie Crawford and Zook laid down bunts. Crawford reached on a fielder’s choice when Schafer beat the throw to second. Zook reached on an error.

“Those were just poor decisions,” Stosich said.

Freshman Morgan Johnson delivered the big blow of the inning, smacking a three-run inside-the-park home run to put the Eagles up 8-4. The blast turned into a track meet because the outfield ground was too frozen to pound in the posts for the regulation 200-foot fence.

Shafer added an RBI double to cap the scoring for Big Sky, who seemingly had the game in hand.

Not so fast, the Bulldogs said.

Justyce Connole hit an RBI single before Ashten McCloskey and Katey Walsh drew bases-loaded walks to cut the lead to 11-7.

Maria Michelotti hit a hard infield single before Baylee Thatcher belted a two-run single to make it a 11-10 game.

“We rebounded really well there.,” Stosich said. “That’s good to see. That’s a pretty good attitude there.”

The rally, though, fell just short.

Thatcher, who went 2 for 4 with a walk and five RBIs, also hit a three-run triple — that might have been a home run if the fence was up — to put the Bulldogs up 4-3 in the third inning.

Big Sky tied the game on an RBI double by Schafer.

Hattie Thatcher hit a pair of singles for the Bulldogs, while Walsh drove in two runs — both on walks.

“We didn’t hit very well for the first seven innings, then all of a sudden our bats came to life,” Stosich said. “It all comes down to playing the game and getting experience. We’re certainly a lot better than we were in the first two innings and the eighth inning.”

The Bulldogs are back in action Thursday when they take on Belgrade in a non-conference game at 4 p.m. at Stodden.

Butte High, which plays at Helena High and Helena Capital on Saturday, doesn’t play an Eastern AA Conference game until they travel to Billings to take on West and Skyview on April 12-13.

Missoula Big Sky       030  010  07 — 11  8  3
Butte High                  004  000  06 — 10  8  4
Brooke Denny and Jesse Schafer; Jessica Robertson and Maria Michelotti, Megan Ingersoll (5). W — Denney (1-0). L — Robertson (0-1).
MISSOUA BIG SKY — Baylie Frost 0-4, Jessica Brady 2-4, Jesse Schafer 2-2, Lexie Crawford 1-4, Talia Zook 0-3, Morgan Johnson 2-4, Kendall Rauk 1-2, Courtney lix 0-3, Brittani Foshag 1-3.
BUTTE HIGH — Hattie Thatcher 2-5, Ashten McCloskey 0-3, Katey Walsh 0-2, Michelotti 1-5, Baylee Thatcher 2-4, Bobbie Osterman 0-1, Ashton LaFond 1-3, Nikki Guizzo 1-3, Haley Henderson 0-0, Ingersoll 0-2, Kendall Alley 0-1, Justyce Connole 1-4.
HR — Johnson. 3B — Zook, Schafer; B. Thatcher. 2B — Johnson, Schafer, Michelotti. RBIs — Johnson 3, Schafer 2, Frost, Foshag; B. Thatcher 5, Walsh 2, McCloskey, Michelotti, Connole.