Maroons slam Blue Devils

The cure for Teresa Piazzola’s nervous stomach was so simple: Strike out the first two varsity batters you face and slug a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning.

Thusly, the Butte Central girls’ softball season debut was a success Saturday as the Maroons mashed Corvallis 14-1 in a weather-meddled Southwestern A Conference game as Copper Mountain Youth Sports Park.

The freshman pitcher allowed only one hit in three innings while striking out five batters and issuing no walks. She did hit one batter. Senior Mikayla Boggs relieved her in the fourth and was also impressive with three strikeouts against no hits or walks.

The BC defense went errorless in the field and the team whacked 11 hits in producing the win. The game ended in the fifth inning on the 10-run difference rule.

Butte Central victimized first-time Corvallis pitcher Taylor Gagnon for 12 runs in the opening inning before Zena Smith was brought to the circle in the third inning. Smith had gone a full stint in a 5-4 loss at Anaconda earlier in the day Smith retired all six Maroons she faced.

The BC team’s  11 hits on a chilly, blustery day accompanied by hail and rain, included a double by Taylor Marthaller along with Piazzola’s blast.

“It was a good feeling after my nerves went away,” Piazzola said about her varsity debut. “I was really nervous before the game. After the first inning, the nerves went away.”

It was no wonder.

The Blue Devils’ first batter, Gianna Schrock, struck out, then Taia Tully fouled a pitch off her hand. She left the game with a feared broken finger. Kathryn Grenfell replaced her and also struck out before Piazzola finished her first inning’s work by coaxing Erika Allen into a groundout.

Butte Central batted and the entire lineup reached base before an out was recorded. Danika Neumann led off by reaching on an error and then Hannah Stajcar beat out a bunt single. Shannon McLaughlin walked to load the bases. Katie Hogart singled in two runs before Marthaller walked to refill the bags.

Aleesha LaBreche then knocked home two runs with a base hit. Boggs also singled and the sacks were packed again.

Piazzola swung at the first pitch she had thrown to her in a high school softball game. She connected with it and it didn’t land until it had cleared the outfield fence for a grand slam.

“I knew it was a home run after I swung,” Piazzola said, with a smile after the game.

The big inning continued with Shelby Paffhausen hitting a single, two groundouts being recorded, McLaughlin reaching on an error, Hogart singling home two more runs, Marthaller doubling in one and LaBreche poking another single before the frame ended.

The Maroons led 12-0.

“I was a little skeptical before the game,” BC head coach Kelci Thatcher said after registering her first win in her first game as a head coach. “I thought we were a little jittery in warmups.

“Teresa was pretty amazing. She was so nervous before the game, she was ready to throw up.”

Instead, Piazzola, Boggs and the rest of the Butte Central lineup made the Blue Devils sick.

Corvallis scored its run in the top of the second inning. Hannah Copko hammered a one-out double into the right-center field gap and later scored on a double steal after Kira Doyle was hit by a pitch.

Butte Central capped its scoring in the home half of the inning  Neumann drew a two-out walk, went to third on a bloop single to left-center by Stajcar and stole home. Stajcar advanced, then ran home on a base hit to left field by McLaughlin.

“I’m pretty danged proud of these girls,” Thatcher, herself an All-State middle infielder for the Maroons the middle of last decade, said. “They were pretty phenomenal today.”

One of the many pluses the BC girls displayed on the diamond was that of having seven seniors in the lineup as McLaughlin was at catcher, LaBreche at first base, Stajcar at second, Hogart at third, Neumann playing shortstop, Marthaller in left field and Boggs in right. Paffjausen, a junior, played center field.

“You can see that senior presence on the field and in the dugout,” Thatcher said. “They also know they are role models for our younger players, and they are all very competitive and want to win. They play with confidence.”

Hogart delivered four runs batted in and LaBreche three in good offensive performances. Pitching, though, especially sparkled on this day.

“Teresa had a heck of a debut and Mikayla was fabulous,” Thatcher said. “Pitching was phenomenal I think it will be very good for us to be able to have both of them there.”

The Maroons will play at Stevensville on Tuesday in a Southwestern A Conference tilt.

Corvallis                    010     00x     x  —  1     1     2
Butte Central          (12)20     0xx     x  — 14      11     0
Taylor Gagnon, Zena Smith (3) and Erica Allen. Teresa Piazzola, Mikayla Boggs (4) and Shannon McLaughlin. W — Piazzola (1-0). L — Gagnon (0-1).
CORVALLIS — Gina Schrock 0-2, Taia Tully 0-0, Kathryn Grenfell 0-2, Erica Allen 0-2, Miquela Kriskovich 0-2, Hannah Capko 1-2, Kelsey Irwin 0-2, Kira Doyle 0-2, Taylor Gagnon 0-1, Zena Smith 0-0, Brenna Bourgeois 0-1.
BUTTE CENTRAL — Danika Neumann 0-3, Hannah Stajcar 2-3, Shannon McLaughlin 1-2, Shawnee Hjelt 0-0, Katie Hogart 2-3, Taylor Marthaller 1-2, Aleesha LaBreche 2-3, Mikayla Boggs 1-3, Teresa Piazzola 1-2, Courtney Thomas 0-1, Shelby Paffhausen 1-3.
2B — Capko, Marthaller. HR — Piazzola (1). RBI — Hogart 4, Piazzola 4, LaBreche 3, McLaughlin 1, Marthaller 1.

BC’s Danika Neumann collides with Corvallis catcher Erica Allen as she slides home safely.