Gallagher, Maroons shut down Yellowjackets

The Maroons put it all together Tuesday evening.

Butte Central’s softball team got the timely hits, slick defense and clutch pitching in a 6-1 Southwestern A win over Stevensville at a sun-soaked Stodden Park.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Maroons, who improved to 4-2 in conference play and 5-7 overall.

“It was good to get back winning,” said junior pitcher McKenzie Gallagher, who struck out 12 batters while improving to 3-3 on the season.

The Maroons scored three runs in the first inning and never trailed in completing the regular-season sweep of the Yellowjackets.

Mollie Peoples tripled, while Corbyn Holm and Taylor Wahl singled to highlight the opening frame for the Maroons. Then Gallagher sat down the first nine Yellowjacket batters in order.

That didn’t mean the game wasn’t intense, However. Gallagher twice got out of edge-of-the-seat jams with the tying runs in scoring position.

Jenna Lockman singled and scored on a Megan Finley single to cut the lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth. Then, Stevi put runners on second and third before Gallagher got Callie Lendman and Maddie Boesch to go down swinging.

Two innings later, with the game still at 3-1, the Yellowjackets again put runners on second and third with one down. Again Gallagher got out of it, striking out Lendman and getting Boesch to line out softly to short stop.

“I was just trying to hit my spots,” Gallagher said. “I knew I had my defense behind me. I knew they had my back.”

The Maroons added three insurance runs in the sixth. Kloie Thatcher, Wahl, Emily St. John and Megan Michelotti singled while Kassidy Criscuolo and Gallagher reached on errors as the Maroons gave their pitcher some breathing room.

Gallagher, who is the No. 1 pitcher while injured ace Teresa Piazzola sits out with a lower back injury, responded by getting the final three outs in order.

“I can’t talk highly enough about that girl,” BC coach Kelci Thatcher said of Gallagher, who for 10 of her 12 strikeout victims swinging. “She’s been our horse. She such a competitor and she has such a great attitude.”

Wahl Went 3 for 3 lead the BC offense from the No. 5 ho.e Shawnee Hjelt joined Hom, Peoples, Thatcher, St. John and Michelotti with hits. BC also took advantage of four Stevi errors.

Coach Thatcher pointed out that the Maroons played error free. That defensive performance came after the coach shifted things around a little bit.

She moved Kloie Thatcher from center field to shortstop, Wahl from short to second and Hjelt from second to left field. Also, St. John moved from right to center, and Criscuolo got the start in right. Mollie Peoples stayed at first, Megan Michelotti stayed at third and Holm again caught.

“We’re young, and sometimes you have to make chances when things aren’t going the way you want,” coach Thatcher said, pointing to a nice running catch Hjelt made in left. “Kloie and Shawnee are a coach’s dream because they are utility players. They can play anywhere on this field.”

The Maroons are back in action Saturday when they head to the Bitterroot to take on Hamilton and Corvallis.

First, BC will take a little time to appreciate what might have been their best game of the season.

“It’s nice that we competed and won a game, and we didn’t lose because of the errors we were making or not producing hits,” coach Thatcher said. “This was a full game that we put together.”

Stevensville                000      100      0 — 1   6   4
Butte Central            300      003      x — 6 9   0

Carly Vercruyssen and Megan Finley; McKenzie Gallagher and Corby Holm. W — Gallagher (3-3). L — Vercruyssen.
STEVENSVILLE — Jenna Lockman 1-3, Vercruyssen 2-3, Cambrea beller 1-3, Finley 1-2, Callie Lendman 0-3, Maddie Boesch 0-3, Taylor Rauch 1-3, Sam Hambrick 0-3, Kayla Amt 0-3, Makayla Davids 0-0.
BUTTE CENTRAL (4-2, 5-7)
— Shawnee Hjelt 1-4, Holm 1-4, Desaray Blunt 0-0, Mollie Poeples 1-3, Kloie Thatcher 1-2, Taylor Wahl 3-3, Emily St. John 1-3, Megan Michelotti 1-3, Kassidy Criscuolo 0-3, Gallagher 0-3.
3B — Peoples. RBIs — Finley; Hjelt, Peoples, Thatcher, Wahl.

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