Coaches like to say there are no freshmen this time of the school year. Taylor Wahl and Corbyn Holm came through like veterans Saturday when Butte Central edged Hamilton 6-5 in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ softball showdown game at wintry Stodden Park.
The loss was Hamilton’s first in conference play this season and kept the Maroons’ hopes for the league regular-season championship alive.
The Broncs had rallied to tie the score at 5-all in the top of the seventh inning in a game played under weathered conditions that included snow, rain, wind and sleet. A combination of sleet and snow whitened the field in the sixth inning and caused about a 15-minute delay in play.
After Hamilton knotted the score, BC came to bat in the last of the seventh and Wahl, a freshman, worked a walk. Bronc pitching ace Brie Clifford then hit Shelby Paffhausen with a pitch and Hamilton coach Jason Goligoski order Clifford to intentionally walk Teresa Piazzola to load the bases — with no outs.
Holm a freshman, then stepped up and saw a couple of pitches before grounding a base hit between first and second bases and into right field. Wahl strolled home easily with the winning run in the walkoff victory.
“I felt a lot of pressure,” a chilled, shivering Holm said after the game while wearing a shirt soaked by the wet weather conditions. “Their pitcher was really good, too.”
Holm said some struggles at the plate had weakened her confidence some and so she had to talk herself into believing she could deliver in the clutch. Butte Central head coach Kelcie Thatcher seemed to have no such qualms, penciling Holm into the lineup as the designated player and the cleanup hitter, and leaving her in the spot instead of pinch-hitting for her when the crucial at-bat arrived.
“I was struggling at the beginning of the year,” Holm said. “I went up with more confidence because I’d been telling myself all game “I can hit, I can hit, I can hit.”
Previous turns in the batter’s box saw Holm strike out swinging, lay down a pretty sacrifice bunt, and strike out swinging again. When an opportunity for heroics was presented, though, she poked the game-winner through the infield to touch off a spirited team celebration.
“It was an outside pitch,” Holm said about the offering she hit. “Maybe a drop ball.”
Piazzola was the winning pitcher. She struck out 13 batters and walked four. The Broncs marked six hits — all singles.
Butte Central led 2-0 after one inning. Wahl started the Maroons off by reaching base on an infield hit and moving to second on a bunt single by Paffhausen. Piazzola doubled to right-center field to knock in Wahl. One-out later, Mollie Peoples lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to bring Paffhausen home.
Hamilton went ahead 3-2 in the top of the third. McKayl Rothie and Clifford drew back-to-back one-out walks and each moved up a base. Rothie scored on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Goligoski. Tayler Reynolds then coaxed a base on balls and she soon followed Clifford home on a single to center field by Shaylan Mohn.
The Maroons answered with three runs of their own in their half of the frame. Paffhausen led off with a single to left, Piazzola worked a walk and both moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Holm. Peoples then singled to left, driving home Paffhausen and Piazzola’s courtesy runner, Emily St. John. Peoples took second base on the late throw to the plate, went to third on a groundout and then steamed home on a passed ball.
Piazzola whiffed Rothie to start he seventh inning, but Clifford reached on a slow roller and Goligoski singled to left field. Both advanced on a steal. Clifford scored when Reynolds grounded out to shortstop Wahl, and then Mohn singled up the middle to deliver Goligoski with the tying run, setting up the need for BC’s walkoff finish in the last half of the inning.
Peoples, also a freshman, drove in three Butte Central runs. Clifford posted seven strikeouts and and four walks. She allowed eight hits, including doubles by Piazzola, Shawnee Hjelt and McKenzie Gallagher.
Butte Central played Corvallis later Saturday afternoon.
Hamilton 003 000 2 — 5 6 1
Butte Central 203 000 1 — 6 8 1
None out when winning run scored.
Brie Clifford and Katie Wickham. Teresa Piazzola and Kate Ossello. W — Piazzola. L — Clifford.
HAMILTON — McKayl Rothie 0-3, Brie Clifford 1-2, Taylor Goligoski 1-3, Tayler Reynolds 0-3, Shaylan Mohn 2-4, Lauren Dolcater 0-4, Sydney Bergren 1-3, Katie Wickham 1-2, Lacey Dolcater 0-0, Kloe Nye 0-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL — Taylor Wahl 1-2, Shelby Paffhausen 2-3, Teresa Piazzola 1-2, Emily St. John 0-0, Mikayla Boggs 0-0, Corbyn Holm 1-3, Mollie Peoples 1-2, Rylee Green 0-3, Kate Ossello 0-3, McKenzie Gallagher 1-2, Shawnee Hjelt 1-1, Cassidy McGree 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Piazzola, Hjelt, Gallagher.
Runs batted in — Hamilton 5 (Mohn 3, Goligoski 1, Reynolds 1); Butte Central 5 (Peoples 3, Piazzola 1, Holm 1).