Maroons rock Yellowjackets

Senior Day couldn’t have been any better for the Butte Central softball team.

The Maroons honored seniors Taylor Marthaller, Hannah Stajcar, Shannon McLaughlin, Danika Neumann, Katie Hogart and Aleesha LaBreche in more ways than one Saturday afternoon at Stodden Park.

BC recognized the seniors and their parents before the regular-season finale against Stevensville.

Then the Maroons sent those seniors out in style by pounding the Yellowjackets 11-1 in five innings.

It started and ended with a double from a freshman.

Shawnee Hjelt, the designated hitter, led off the bottom of the first inning with a solid double to the gap in left-center field. That started an inning that saw the first six BC batters score.

Things were going so good that when the Yellowjackets finally got a strike out, Marthaller reached on a wild pitch.

The game ended when Hjelt doubled to score Stajcar from first base to end the game in walk-off fashion via the 10-run rule.

“The last two weeks they really changed it around,” BC coach Kelci Thatcher said after her team closed the season at 6-2 in conference and 9-9 overall. “They’re so focused at the plate. We’re getting that string of hits that we’ve been looking for all year, and right at the right time.

We’re peaking, and it’s going to carry over until next week.”

Next week is the Class A State tournament in Belgrade. The Maroons are the No. 2 team out of the Southwestern A. They open the tournament at noon Thursday against Livingston, the No. 3 seed from the Central A. (Bracket)

The Maroons pounded 13 hits to back up freshman pitcher Teresa Piazzola, who struck out four and gave up three hits in four innings for the win. Junior Mikayla Boggs pitched a perfect fifth inning.

Hjelt went 3 for 4, McLaughlin went 3 for 3 and Hogart went 2 for 2 with a triple and two RBIs to lead the BC offense.

Thatcher said she really likes Hjelt, who cracked the varsity lineup as a fill in for Hogart at third base after the senior suffered a concussion, on top of the order. With Stajcar in the No. 2 hole, the Maroons have two place setters for the meat of the order.

“She’s a great leadoff, and it’s nice to have Shannon three, Danika four and Katie five,” the coach said. “It makes (the lineup) stronger.”

Neumann went 2 for 3 with a double, while Stajcar, LaBreche and Shelby Paffhausen singled in the win.

Marthaller, who squeezed in a run, scored twice.

“They executed, they bunted, they stole the bases,” Thatcher said. “It’s good to see them do that. Then defensively, that’s the team that they are. They’re solid and they’re making plays. It’s exciting to watch them when they play like that.”

Hogart’s play at third highlighted BC’s defensive effort. The defensive play of the day came when Hogart fielded a Cambrea Beller bunt, faked to first and then threw behind the runner to gun down Kayla Knights at third.

“She was getting all the action,” Thatcher said. “She’s a great third baseman. We’re going to miss her presence, not just on the field, in general.”

Though she still has a week left with her six seniors, Thatcher couldn’t help but think about what life will be like without them next season.

“It’s going to be a tough go,” Thatcher said. “I’m not ready for it. They’re just a competitive group.”

Stevensville                 010  00 —   1    3   3
Butte Central            640  01 — 11  13   0

Carly Vercruyssen and Megan Finley; Teresa Piazzola, Mikayla Boggs (5) and Shannon McLaughlin. W — Piazzola. L — Vercruyssen.
STEVENSVILLE (3-5, 9-10)— Bailey Vercruyssen 1-2, C. Vercruyssen 1-2, Emalie Lewis 0-2, Finley 0-2, Jenna Lockman 1-2, Kayla Knights 0-2, Cambrea Beller 0-3, Madison Boesch 0-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (6-2, 9-9) — Shawnee Hjelt 3-4, Hannah Stajcar 1-3, McLaughlin 3-3, Kate Ossello 0-0, Danika Neumann 2-3, Katie Hogart 2-3, Taylor Marthaller 0-2, Aleesha LeBreche 1-3, Piazzola 0-2, Courtney Thomas 0-1, Shelby Paffhausen 1-3.
3B — Hogart. 2V — Hjelt 2, Neumann. RBIs — Hogart 2, Hjelt, McLaughlin, Neumann, Marthaller, LeBreche, Piazzola.