By Bruce Sayler
The regulation final score was 18-1 due to the 15-run difference rule after three innings and declared Butte Central the winner over Hamilton in girls’ softball game at Stodden Park Saturday.
The players left the field with a 22-1 gap because the teams’ coaches wanted to take advantage of decent weather conditions to allow their full rosters to see some field time. So, they went an extra inning and a half.
Leadoff home runs by sophomores Mia Keeley, in the second inning, and Brooke Badovinac, in the third, were the big blasts for the Maroons in their 10-hit attack. The Badovinac walloped highlighted a 4-for-4 batting day for her. The Maroons also capitalized on some Hamilton errors and being issued walks.
“We’re getting out hitters up a little,” BC head coach Chunky Thatcher said about the offense his team has been showing. “We got everybody in, everybody got to play. They all come to practice, so we try to get them all in if we can. I appreciate them being here.
“Hamilton is young like us.”
Thatcher said Butte Central’s No. 1 pitcher, Maci Reopelle, will likely miss about two weeks healing what the coach said is a deep quadricep bruise. Reopelle was hit by a hard line drive in Thursday’s game against Corvallis and was unable to continue in the game. Reopelle, one of two Maroon seniors, is also one of the team’s top hitters. Maddi Kump and Sofee Thatcher are sharing the pitching chores, for now. Thatcher, a junior, pitched Saturday’s win.
“It hurts being without Maci,” Chunky Thatcher said. “We go on, and it has to be next man up.”
Thatcher struck out six batters and walked one in beating the Broncs. She yielded five hits.
Hamilton threatened with a one-out triple by Magdalena Ringer in the top of the first inning. She was left on third when Thatcher struck out Phoebe Howard and got Cierra Cole to line out to Brenna Foley at second base.
The BC girls then erupted for their first of two consecutive 8-run innings. Badovinac singled to start it and then raced to third on a bunt single by Foley. A flurry of walks, wild pitches and passed balls saw Badovinac, Foley and Thatcher all cross the plate. Productive groundouts by Kump and Keeley were followed by more of the Hamilton miscues: three walks and a hit batsman with Maggie Stimatz scoring on a passed ball. Badovinac’s infield hit scored another run and the last two came home when Thatcher’s infield popup was dropped.
Brooke Alexander singled down the right-field line to start the Hamilton second inning. She got to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit to center field by Delilah Beck. It was the Broncs’ only run.
Keeley answered for Butte Central in the bottom of the second with her leadoff shot lined over the left-field fence. The Maroons plated seven more runs before the inning finished. They loaded the bases on two walks and an error before Kathryn Lalicker walked, Badovinac singled, Foley reached on an infield hit and Thatcher singled to center, all scoring runs. A groundout by Kump batted in Foley, and Thatcher tallied on an error.
The BC girls had an 18-a lead heading into the third inning.
After Hamilton failed to score, the Butte Central put up two runs in the bottom of the third. Badovinac’s homer over right field began the frame. Thatcher made base on a one-out infield hit, then went to third on a Kump single and came home on Keeley’s flyball that was dropped in the outfield.
The coaches opted to enact their option to continue play, though the umpires ruled regulation play had ended on the 15-run difference rule after three innings.
Thatcher continued to shut out the Broncs, but Butte Central scored four runs in the fourth. Hamilton committed five errors in the inning with backups playing several positions. Chloe Stillwagon hit a one-out single for the Maroons, then Badovinac and Foley both got on base via errors. Another error let Thatcher get to base while Stillwagon scored. One out later, Keeley singled Badovinac home. A drop of Stimatz’ flyball allowed for both Foley and Thatcher to cross the plate.
“It was good to win in conference,” coach Thatcher said. “We’d like to win them all, but that’s not going to happen. If we can finish in the top two or three, our chances will be better of getting to State.
“It was good to get the all the kids in today. (The Broncs’) coach (Dave Kearns) is a dear friend and he wanted to get some of his other kids into the game, too.”
The win put the Maroons at 2-4 for the season and 2-1 in conference play. They will play a non-conference game versus the new East Helena High School Vigilantes on Tuesday in East Helena, weather allowing.
Hamilton 010 xxx x — 1 5 3
Butte Central 882 xxx x — 18 10 0
Katelyn Shepherd, Brynne Johnson (2) and Madison Johnson. Sofee Thatcher and Mia Keeley. W – Thatcher. L – Shepherd.
HAMILTON — Madison Johnson 0-1, Abby Converse 0-0, Magdalena Ringer 1-1, Madison Cornelison 0-0, Phoebe Howard 0-2, Alyson Broad 0-0, Cierra Cole 1-2, Brooke Alexander 1-2, Madisen Fischer 0-0, Katelyn Shepherd 0-1, Lina Behghezal 0-0, Delilah Beck 1-1, Isabell Sommer 0-0, Maddy Ward 1-1, Lilly McLeod 0-0, Brynne Johnson 0-1.
BUTTE CENTRAL (2-4, 2-1) — Brooke Badovinac 4-4, Brenna Foley 2-3, Sofee Thatcher 2-4, Maddi Kump 1-3, Mia Keeley 1-3, Maggie Stimatz 0-2, Jaeden Berger 0-1, Jodi Reiter 0-1, Renee Creekmore 0-1, Angelina O’Rourke 0-0, Kathryn Lalicker 0-1, Chloe Stillwagon 0-0.
Extra-base hits – 3B – Ringer. HR – Keeley, Badovinac.
Runs batted in – Hamilton 1 (Beck), Butte Central 12 (Thatcher 4, Badovinac 3, Foley 2, Keeley 2, Lalicker 1).