Bulldog fans definitely needed a roster to identify the new members of the young Butte High softball team Tuesday at Stodden Park.
Those fans also had to like a lot of what they saw as the Bulldogs officially opened the season against the Missoula Big Sky Eagles, last year’s State tournament runners up.
Freshman pitcher Kaidy McClafferty battled in and out of trouble to go toe-to-toe with Big Sky ace Macey Newbary before the Eagles pulled away for a 5-0 victory in a stiff breeze.
While McClafferty was dodging bullets, though, Newbary was dealing them. She struck out 12 Bulldogs in the one-hit win. Ten of the Ks were swinging.
Senior catcher Maria Michelotti — who singled and drew a walk — was the only Butte High player to reach base.
“Our kids competed well, and tip your hat to that pitcher,” Butte High head coach Ryan Stosich said. “She’s a good one. You’re not going to find much better than her around the state.”
Newbary, the Big Sky leadoff hitter, also isn’t bad with the stick. She went 2 for 3 and scored the game’s first run in the top of the fifth inning.
Newbary drew one of her two free passes to lead off the fifth inning. She took second when Natalie Schwab walked and scored on a solid single by catcher Morgan Johnson.
That run was the only earned run surrendered by McCafferty, who struck out eight batters in the loss. McClafferty surrendered 10 singles and seven walks, but she stranded 14 runners. She left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings.
“She competed very well,” Stosich said. “I was extremely happy.”
Big Sky doubled the lead in the sixth when Jael Rolle followed an error by reaching on a fielder’s choice. She took third on a Newbary single and scored on a Johnson groundout.
Johnson, who went 3 for 5, drove in three runs.
A two-out error led to three unearned Big Sky runs as the Eagles broke the game open in the seventh.
Even though his team committed three errors, Stosich was pleased with the team in their first full game of the season. Butte High went 1-3 at the Great Falls Jamboree on Saturday.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more other than a ‘W,’” Stosich said. “That game could have easily been 1-0 or 2-0.”
Defensively, senior center fielder Justyce Connole made a diving running catch to rob Quincy Preston of a base hit in the third inning to highlight Butte High’s defensive performance.
Butte High also got solid play from junior Isabelle Bonney at third, freshman Kennedi Ferriter at short, senior Bethany McLean at first and sophomore Katelyn Alley in left.
The Bulldogs nailed two Big Sky runners in run downs. On one, Michelotti hustled down the line to cover third and tagged Kendall Mooney off a Ferriter throw.
On another, Alley came in from left during a pickle and gunned the ball to McLean to get Rolle at the plate.
The Bulldogs are back in action Saturday when they head to Helena to take on Helena High and Helena Capital.
Thursday’s game with Belgrade has be rescheduled for next Tuesday in Butte.
Missoula Big Sky 000 011 3 — 5 10 0
Butte High 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
Macey Newbary and Morgan Johnson; Kaidy McClafferty and Maria Michelotti. W — Newbary (1-0). L — McClafferty (0-1).
MISSOULA BIG SKY (1-0) — Newbary 2-3, Natalie Schwab 0-1, Johnson 3-5, Jamie Schafer 1-3, Kendall Mooney 0-3, Kendall Rauk 0-3, Kylie Snow 2-4, Quincy Preston 1-4, Jael Rolle 1-4.
BUTTE HIGH (0-1) — Ashten McCloskey 0-3, Kennedi Ferriter 0-3, Michelotti 1-2, Amanda Spear 0-3, Justyce Connole 0-3, Bethany McLean 0-2, Isabelle Bonney 0-1, Tristan Walks 0-1, Katelyn Alley 0-1, Ellie Hoffenbacker 0-1, Jenna Walker 0-2.
RBIs — Jorhnson 3, Schwarb 1.