By Bruce Sayler
Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel at Stodden Park looked a lot like the basepaths when Butte Central was batting against Browning there on Saturday.
The Maroons wrapped their own stay in their own LaVerne Combo Memorial high school girls’ softball tournament with 23-1 triumph over a struggling Browning contingent. The game was shortened to 3 ½ innings by the 15-run difference rule.
Butte Central used most of its roster, substituting freely after building an 11-0 first-inning command.
“A lot of kids got to play and that’s what I needed,” Chunky Thatcher, head coach of the Maroons, said. “I told the (starters) before the game that when we got a lead, most will sit.”
Senior pitcher Maddi Kump spun a three-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks. She also knocked in three runs with a double and a single in a 12-hit BC offensive output. Brooke Badovinac led it with three doubles and a single while collecting three runs batted in. She scored four times.
“We’re getting better,” Thatcher said. “We’re about where I want to be, if we get Sofee back.”
Sofee Thatcher, the coach’s daughter, has been missing from the lineup recently because of illness and they are hoping she may be able to return to play later this coming week.
The Indians’ only hits were a first-inning single by Gianna Vickers and back-to-back doubles by freshmen Tayleigh Upham and Kalcie Connelly in the third inning that scored their only run.
Browning was charged with nine runs nine walks for the game. Five errors, three walks and two hit batsmen occurred in the bottom of the first inning while the BC girls were grabbing an 11-0 command.
The first three Butte Central batters loaded the bases on an error, a walk and being hit by a pitch. Two runs scored on two errors on one play and two more crossed the plate when Mia Keeley mashed a double to left field. Two more walks refilled the bags. Mia Keeley came home on a wild pitch and Renee Creekmore popped up a pitch that caused the fielders to turn their backs to the plate. The fly was caught, but Maggie Stimatz ran home on the sacrifice fly. Another out later, Badovinac slugged a run-scoring ground-rule double to center field. Brenna Foley singled her home, took second on a wild pitch and came home, after a walk to Maci Reopelle, on a base hit by Kump. Another scored another run and Stimatz being hit by a pitch packed the sacks again. Kump scored on a booted ground ball before Browning and its pitcher, Susan Connelly, got out of the inning on a groundout.
The Maroons tallied a run in the second when Badovinac punched a pitch behind third base and hustled it out for a double, then scored three batters later on a bases-loaded error.
Then, the BC girls put up another 11 runs in the third. Angelina O’Rourke led it off with a walk, Berger singled to left and Chloe Stillwagon hit into a fielder’s choice that put O’Rourke out at third base. Jodi Reiter clubbed a bad-hot single that bounced off Browning second baseman Brooke Blue’s forehead. It knocked in Berger. Badovinac doubled to right to plate Stilllwagon and then Reiter scored on a base hit by Foley to center field. An error loaded the bases, setting up a two-run double to center field by Kump. Keeley walked to repack the sacks. After a strikeout, Berger walked to force in a run. Stillwagon was hit by a pitch to force in another run and then Reiter singled ini two runs and Badovinac knocked in another while reaching on an infield hit. Thatcher had the Maroons advancing mostly station-to-station and the bases were loaded when the Indians recorded the third out.
Browning coaches were asked by the coaches if they wanted to end the game then on the 15-run difference rule or continue playing. They opted to keep playing. Kump struck out all three of the Indians’ batters on nine pitches in the top of the fourth inning and their coaches then decided they’d had enough.
The win gave the BC girls a 10-8 record and they are to next play on Monday in a Southwestern A Conference game at Stevensville. Butte Central and Stevi are tied at 4-4 for third place in the conference and the top three teams will advance to the state A tournament. The Maroons and Yellowjackets will vie Monday in Stevensville and Friday in Butte for the state berth. The Stzte A tourney is set for May 27-29 at Stodden Park.
“I’m hoping we can go play well in Stevensville on Monday,” Thatcher said. “I felt at the beginning of the season that we would probably be about a .500 team this year and we’re 10-and-8, so I’m happy with that.
“In the early games, some errors hurt us in some games and maybe we should have won a couple of those. But, the kids are getting better and getting stronger. We’ll go play on Monday and see what happens.”
Browning 001 0xx x — 1 3 9
Butte Central (11)1(11) xxx x — 23 12 0
Susan Connelly and Kalcie Connelly. Maddi Kump and Mia Keeley. W – Kump. L – S. Connelly.
BROWNING — Kaytins Evans 0-2, Brooke Blue 0-2, Gianna Vickers 1-2, Hallie Higgins 0-2, Susan Connelly 0-1, BreeAnna Polk 0-1, Tayleigh Upham 1-1, Kalcie Connelly 1-1, Paris Vaile 0-1.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-8) — Brooke Badovinac 4-5, Brenna Foley 2-3, Maci Reopelle 0-2, Maddi Kump 2-5, Mia Keeley 1-3, Maggie Stimatz 0-0, Angelina O’Rourke 0-1, Jaiden Berger 1-2, Renee Creekmore 0-1, Chloe Stillwagon 0-1, Kathryn Lalicker 0-1, Jodi Reiter 2-3.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Upham, K. Connelly, Keeley, Badovinac 3, Kump.
Runs batted in – Browning 1 (K. Connelly), Butte Central 16 (Badovinac 3, Kump 3, Reiter 3, Foley 2, Keeley 2, Berger 1, Creekmore 1, Stillwagon 1).