Miners open season Sunday

It turns out the report of the demise of the Butte American Legion Baseball program was a bit premature.

They might not have a district tournament to look forward to and they might not have a stadium to call their own, but the Butte Miners open the season Sunday.

The Miners will head to Florence — weather permitting — to take on a Senior Babe Ruth team.

Butte has too many — 16 too many — students in grades 10 through 12 to play in Class A, and the lack of a stadium with lights eliminates the possibility of the Miners playing in Class AA. Still, the Miners will compete in the Southern A District, even if they won’t be allowed to play in the district tournament.

“We’re going to keep track of the standings,” Butte Miners second-year head coach Jeff LeProwse said. “We have conference games scheduled, and we’re going to treat them like conference games.”

The numbers of the program have rebounded this year, LeProwse said. Though the roster is still very young, Butte will field a Miners and Muckers team this season. Last year, Butte only had the Miners, who went winless in conference games.

In all, 29 players are out for the program, which worked hard in the to fight the perception around town that Butte wouldn’t field a team at all.

“We would have never let that happen,” LeProwse said of having the Butte Legion program dissolve. “As long as I’ve got 10 guys who want to play, I’ll have a team.”

The Miners return 10 experienced players. Cody Sletton, 19, is the elder statesman of the group. Also back are Colten Billteen, Marcus Madrazo, Tanner Costello, Tyler Harney, Killian O’Leary, Dylan McDonald, Trent Maloney, Nate LeProwse and Zach Hart.

Costello, O’Leary and Maloney are Butte’s top pitchers. Sletten is also capable of giving the Miners innings.

The Muckers open the season May 5 against the Missoula Mustangs. LeProwse said he was careful to keep the super-young Muckers from playing older teams.

“I’ve got a lot of 14-year-old players on the Muckers,” LeProwse said. “But it’s good to get them in there.”

The Miners and Muckers will play their home games at Copper Mountain Park this season. Alumni Coliseum is now a football-only facility.

LeProwse said the Legion program is working toward getting a stadium of their own for the future.

“In the long run, this will turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to us,” LeProwse said of losing their stadium. “We’ll have a place of our own.”

Butte Miners and Muckers schedules