Maroons’ run ends with heartbreaking loss to Hamilton

ANACONDA — It seemed like the Butte Central softball team played an entire season in one day Friday at the Charlotte Yeoman-Martin Complex.

It was a pretty memorable season at that.

The Maroons knocked off Laurel 6-2 before edging Billings Central in a 4-2 thriller. Both games were loser-out contests.

BC, though, fell just short of Saturday at the Class A State tournament with a 9-5 loss to rival Hamilton. That game ended about 11 hours after the first pitch of the day.

“They competed. They competed until the very end,” third-year BC coach Kelci Thatcher said. “The thing I love about those girls is whether they win or lose, they do it with class. They have nothing to hang their heads about. They had a great season.”

The Maroons close the season at 17-11. That season also included a Southwestern A regular-season title. Not bad for a team whose post-season roster includes four freshmen, four sophomores and not one senior.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Thatcher said.

Hamilton advances to play Polson Saturday morning. Two-time defending champion Frenchtown will battle Belgrade in the undefeated game. Bracket

Hamilton 9, Butte Central 5
Hamilton broke open a nail-biting affair with four runs in the top of the seventh inning.

The Maroons led 2-0, 3-2 and 5-3. Each time, though, the Broncs had an answer.

The last lead seemed like a lock for BC fans when Thatcher made a pitching switch, replacing starter McKenzie Gallagher with Teresa Piazzola. Piazzola was superb, pitching 14 innings in BC’s first two games of the season.

The switch came with two runners on base with one out. It seemed like the perfect time for the perfect move for the coach.

However, both inherited runners scored to tie the game. Both runners scored on hits that didn’t leave the infield.

Piazzola got the first batter, Lacey Dolcater, to ground back to the pitcher. The groundout moved Rachael Ringer to third base and Shaylan Mohn to second.

Ringer scored to cut the lead to 5-4 win a infield hit. Then speedy lead-off hitter Caitlin Dillon hit a slow dribbler down the third base line to score Mohn with the tying run.

“I thought we had them,” Thatcher said.

In the top of the seventh, Tayler Reynolds hit a one-out double to get things started. She scored on a single by Ringer four pitches later.

A heavy rain fall then delayed action briefly. When the wet players returned to the field, the Broncs were red-hot, and the Maroons were worn out by the long day of action.

Lauren Dolcater drew a walk before Mohn hit a two-run triple. She scored on a throwing error to complete the four-run frame.

Taylor Wahl and Piazzola, who started in left field, singled to open the bottom of the second. Wahl scored on an error, while Piazzola crossed on a sacrifice fly by Shawnee Hjelt.

Hamilton tied the game with two in the fourth. Ringer hit an RBI single, while Dolcater belted an RBI double.

Piazzola walked and took third on a Gallagher double in the fourth. She scored when Hjelt hit a grounder to second.

The next inning, though, Dillon singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Goligoski.

The Maroons took their final lead in the fifth. Emily St. John led off the inning with a walk, and Mollie Peoples followed with a single. St. John scored on a double by Corbyn Holm, who needed a pinch runner because of an injured knee.

Piazzola was hit by a pitch and Kassidy Criscuolo walked to load the bases. Then Gallagher hit a rocket, which was caught by Goligoski. The shortstop fired to third to double off the pinch runner.

Hamilton                   000      212      4 — 9 13 4
Butte Central            020      120      0 — 5   6   0

Hayley Hudgins, Sky Lopez (4) and Rachael Ringer. McKenzie Gallagher, Teresa Piazzola (6) and Corbyn Holm. W – Lopez. L – Piazzola (9-2).
HAMILTON — McKayl Rothie 1-3, Taylor Goligoski 1-3, Caitlin Dillon 3-4, Kloie Nye 1-3, Lacey Dolcater 1-4, Tayler Reynolds 1-4, Shaylan Mohn 2-4, Lauren Dolcater 0-2, Ringer 3-4.
BUTTE CENTRAL (17-11) — Kloie Thatcher 0-3, Shawnee Hjelt 0-3, Corbyn Holm 1-4, Piazzola 1-2, Gallagher 1-2, Emily St. John 0-3, Mollie Peoples 2-4, Desiree Blunt 0-0, Kassidy Criscuolo 1-3, Taylor Wahl 0-3, Megan Michelotti 0-0.
2B – Goligoski, Lacey Dolcater, Reynolds; Holm, Gallagher. 3B – Mohn. RBIs – Goligoski, Dillon, Nye, Lacey Dolcater, Mohn 2, Ringer, Hjelt 2, Holm, Criscuolo.

Butte Central 4, Billings Central 2
Piazzola won her second game of the day, outdueling Billings Central pitcher Molly Day.

The Butte Central junior, who had her season interrupted by a lower back injury, struck out five, walked none and scattered six hits in the win.

“She was great,” Thatcher said. “She went to (assistant coach) Luke Stajcar today and said, ‘I’m good to go. I’ll pitch whatever I need. I can rest all summer.” It’s a great mentality. She just wanted to go out and compete.”

The game was played cleanly and intensely by both sides before the first miscue cost the Rams the game.

Hjelt hit a grounder with two out and Wahl at third and Criscuolo on second in the bottom of the sixth inning. Both scored when the infielder booted the ball.

Piazzola worked around an Addy Daubert one-out double to end the game.

Billings Central drew first blood, scoring two in the top of the first inning. Aubrey Walter reached on an error and Skylar Rockwell singled. Both scored on a single by Maggie Meyer.

The Maroons tied the game in the second. Holm and Wahl singled to start things off. Holm crossed on a wild pitch, while Wahl came home on a sacrifice fly by Criscuolo.

No Ram got past second base after the first inning. The closest one got was when lead-off hitter Bailey Kuefled got caught in a crazy rundown between first and third in the fifth.

Walter grounded to shortstop Klie Thatcher, who fired to Peoples at first. Peoples fired to third baseman Megan Michelotti, who fired to Thatcher.

Thatcher missed a tag, then threw to second baseman Wahl, who chased Kuefled down. Wahl and Kuefeld crashed to the ground, and the ball squirted out.

Piazzola picked up the ball and chased down Kuefeld for the out.

The play was symbolic of the game that featured two teams that would not go down easily.

Billings Central         200      000      0 — 2 6 1
Butte Central            020      002      x — 4 7 0

Molly Day and Addy Daubert; Teresa Piazzola and Corbyn Holm. W — Piazzola (9-1). L — Day.
BILLINGS CENTRAL — Bailey Kufeld 1-3, Aubrey Walter 0-3, Skylar Rockwell 2-3, Allison Walter 0-2, Maggie Meyer 1-3, Day 1-2, Morgan Smith 0-3, Daubert 1-3, Jessie Schmitz 0-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL (17-10) — Kloie Thatcher 1-4, Emily St. John 1-3, Mollie Peoples 0-3, Holm 1-3, Taylor Wahl 2-2, Piazzola 0-3, Kassidy Criscuolo 2-2, Shawnee Hjelt 0-2, Megan Michelotti 0-0.
2B — Kufeld, Daubert. RBIs — Meyer 2.

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