Keeley, Maroons walk off in 13-1 rout of Blue Devils

By Bill Foley

Emma Keeley said she was channeling her inner Big Papi.

The freshman Butte Central shortstop — and Red Sox fan — ended Saturday’s 13-1 rout of Corvallis in a Southwestern A game at Stodden Park.

“It was awesome,” Keeley said of the hit that brought the 10-run mercy rule into effect in the bottom of the fifth inning. “I’ve hit a home run before, but I’ve always wanted to hit a walk off, kind of.”

Sure, there might not have been a lot of drama because the Maroons were leading 10-1 when Keely stepped to the plate with Zoe Doherty and Kloie Thatcher on base. But a walk off is a walk off, and the Maroons gave Keeley a hero’s welcome at home plate after she sent a bullet over the fence in center field.

“I was just looking for the laces to hit it up the middle,” Keeley said.

BC coach Kelci Thatcher wasn’t surprised by Keeley’s game-ending blast.

“Emma is going to be a stud,” the coach said before interrupting herself. “She is a stud. The thing I love about Emma is what you get is what you see. She gives you 110 percent day in and day out. It’s one speed with her. She’s just a go getter.”

The home run was the third of the game for the Maroons, who won by the 10-run rule for the second time this week as they improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference.

Megan Michelotti hit a two-run home run to start the scoring. Taylor Wahl followed with a three-run blast as the Maroons took command with a seven-run first inning.

“The girls came ready to play today,” coach Thatcher said. “They were just relaxed from the very beginning, and that’s a big thing for us. With how young we are, we need to be relaxed.”

Kloie Thatcher, BC’s junior pitcher, struck out 11 batters the three-hit victory. She also doubled to jump start the BC first-inning rally.

Michelotti is BC’s No. 2 hitter. She attempted to bunt Thatcher to third on the first pitch of her at bat. On the third pitch, she hit a no-doubt shot over the fence in left-center.

After the game, coach Thatcher laughed at herself for calling a bunt.

“I was like, ‘Well, let’s just psyche ’em out. You miss a bunt and then you go hit a home run.’”

The first seven BC batters scored in an inning that saw BC send 11 batters to the plate.

After Keeley reached on an error and Mollie Peoples doubled, Wahl hit a line shot for a home run to make it 5-0.

Doherty hit an RBI grounder to score Kassidy Criscuolo, and Brooke Raiha scored on a double steal after the Blue Devils intentionally walked Thatcher.

In the second inning, Keeley walked and scored after Peoples singled and was caught in a rundown between first and second.

Leadoff hitter Corinne Sanderson singled and scored on an error for the Blue Devils’ only run in the third. The run turned out to be an earned run because Mariah Hickey followed with a double to left.

That cut the lead to 8-1.

Thatcher singled in Cassidy Strizic, who walked, to make it 9-1 in the fourth, and Keeley tripled and scored on a throwing error to make it 10-0 in the fourth.

In all, the Maroons smacked 11 hits, and all nine batters in the lineup reached base at least once.

“We’ve been really working at hitting the ball in practice and just staying relaxed,” Keeley said. “We’re hitting the ball.”

At shortstop, where she has also been excelling, Keeley had a front row seat to watch Thatcher work in the pitcher’s circle.

She said Thatcher was hitting her sports to keep the Blue Devils off balance.

“She’s been doing great,” Keeley said. “It’s hard to imagine what it might be like without her.”

Coach Thatcher also had praise for Kloie Thatcher, who would rather be playing short stop.

“She’s really owning that role very, very well,” the coach said of her cousin. “I just can’t be more proud of her accepting that role to take the mound for us.”

After early-season struggles against top competition, the Maroons appear to be turning the corner and ready to roll as they head toward the home stretch.

BC plays host to Stevensville in a conference game Tuesday. Next Friday and Saturday the Maroons will play at the Frenchtown Invitational, where they will play four games.

Keeley said the Maroons are ready.

“We’re going to be great,” she said. “It was a tough beginning, but I think it only made us better.”

Corvallis                    001      00 —  1      2   3
Butte Central            701      11 — 13   11   2

Kayla Fields, Ashlynn Nixon (1) and Mariah Hickey; Kloie Thatcher and Megan Michelotti. W — Thatcher. L — Fields.
CORVALLIS (2-5, 0-3) —Corinne Sanderson 1-3, Nixon 0-1, Hickey 1-2, Kaitlin Irwin 0-2, Megan Bradshaw 1-2, Kim Wright 0-2, Lexi Rhodes 0-2, Fields 0-2, Mika Walker 0-2
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-3, 2-1) — Thatcher 2-3, Michelotti 1-4, Emma Keely 2-3, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Taylor Wahl 203, Kassidy Criscuolo 0-2, Brooke Raiha 1-3, Cassidy Strizic 0-2, Zoe Doherty 1-3.
HR — Michelotti, Wahl, Keeley. 3B — Keely. 2B — Hickey; Thatcher, Peoples. RBIs — Keeley 3, Wahl 3, Michelotti 2, Thatcher, Doherty.