BELGEADE — Belgrade softball coach Mike Neubauer was scratching his head to try to find out why his defending Class A state champion Panthers continued their early-season offensive struggles following Wednesday’s 3-0 non-conference loss to Butte High.
Bulldog coach Ryan Stosich had no such questions, at least not as far as Wednesday’s game was involved. The answer started with Kaidy and ended with McClafferty.
“They ran into a quality pitcher from Butte,” Stosich said. “That’s what happened.”
Butte High senior Kaidy McClafferty rolled her record to 3-0 with a dominating performance. She struck out 12 batters, raising her K total to 32 over three starts.
“She pitched pretty well,” Stosich said. “Belgrade is a quality team, too.”
McClafferty scattered five hits — four singles — and didn’t allow a walk.
Offensively, the Bulldogs took advantage of four Belgrade errors. Madison Joseph reached on an error and scored when Taylor Huff reached on an error to put Butte up 1-0 in the third inning.
That’s where the game stayed until Butte High added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
Joseph singled and scored when Brianna Ossello reached on an error. Ossello scored on a Huff single.
In all, the Bulldogs smacked eight hits in the victory. A double by Ossello, the leadoff hitter, was Butte’s lone extra-base hit. She also hit a single.
Huff hit a pair of singles, while Jenna Maroney, Kennedi Ferriter and Brittney Tierney joined Joseph with one single apiece.
“We’re just not getting that timely hit to break open the games,” Stosich said after Butte High improved to 3-1 on the season. “We’re still scoring enough to win. Kaidy is holding them down, but our hitters need to do more.”
Stosich said that will come as the Bulldogs get more time playing outside. Butte High has been primarily practicing inside so far in the young season.
Katie Hoppe doubled to lead the Panthers (2-2). Kaleigh Bauerle struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in the hard-luck loss.
The Bulldogs will head to Billings to open Eastern AA play Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs take on Senior in a doubleheader Friday before battling West in a double dip on Saturday.
Butte High 001 000 2 — 3 8 0
Belgrade 000 000 0 — 0 5 4
Kaidy McClafferty and Emma Cox. Kaleigh Bauerle and Katie Hoppe. W — McClafferty. L — Bauerle (1-1).
BUTTE HIGH (3-1) — Brianna Ossello 2-4, Jenna Maroney 1-4, Taylor Huff 2-4, McClafferty 0-3, Aubree Corcoran 0-0, Maci Reopelle 0-1, Kennedy Ferriter 1-4, MacKenzie Tutty 0-0, Brittney Tierney 1-2, Cox 0-2, Brooke Raiha 0-2, Jaden Cleveland 0-1, Madison Joseph 1-3.
BELGRADE (2-2) — Khiala Rollins 0-3, Hoppe 2-3, Hazel Eaton 0-1, Olivia Cook 0-3, Ty Atwood 2-3, Heather Gier 0-3, Presley Jacobs 0-2, Maddie Kreiger 0-3, Alexa Deming 0-2, Haylee Curry 0-1, Ellie Milesnick 1-1, Kameryn Grorrell 0-0.
2B — Ossello; Hoppe. RBIs — Huff 2.