Nine balls leave yard, Big Sky outslugs Butte High

By Bruce Sayler
Fans beyond the outfield fence maybe should’ve worn helmets, too.
With an afternoon/evening wind blowing out, Missoula Big Sky and Butte High sluggers combined for nine home runs at Stodden Park Thursday where Big Sky rained on the Bulldogs’ softball home season debut. The Eagles beat Butte High 24-16 in the Western AA Conference game.
Grace Hood powered three of Big Sky’s round-trippers while driving in five runs. The collection of RBIs ranked second on the team to the seven Delaney Baird charted. One of Laird’s three hits was a home run. The Eagles’ other homers were walloped by Brooke Schaffer and Butte-rooted Sadie McGuinn, daughter of Butte native Joe McGuinn and granddaughter of late Butte American Legion baseball legend Jim Hanley.
Butte High answered with blasts from Bryn Godbout, Rian Ferriter and Madisyn Swanson.
The home opener of the Bulldogs was a much-postponed item because of the snowy siege Butte and much of Montana has been under from the languishing winter. Limited to two practices outdoors the entire spring in a season a month old has slowed the Butte High team development, as game and undaunted the Bulldogs might be.
Three critical baserunning mistakes and the five errors Thursday could maybe be attributed to the anxiousness, aggressiveness of Butte High’s players.
“We’ve got to make the routine plays and quit running ourselves out of innings on the basepaths,” Butte High head coach Ryan Stosich said. “But, I loved the way our girls competed. They didn’t give up. We hit the ball pretty well.”
Both teams enjoyed a good hitting day with elements definitely favoring those swinging the bats. Big Sky belted 18 hits and Butte High pounded 17.
The Bulldogs led 3-1 after one inning. Hood’s first home run, a solo jack over the left-field fence, staked the Eagles to a 1-0 edge in the first half of the first inning. Rian Ferriter was hit by a pitch with two out in the Butte High half of the inning and Swanson followed with a single to left field. Godbout then cranked a three-run homer to left field.
Laird’s leadoff double in the top of the second led to a run-scoring single by Jordan Whitmire and Big Sky closed to within 3-2.
After holding Butte High scoreless in its half of the frame, the Eagles erupted for five runs in the top of the third and took the lead for good. Breanna Hewitt was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home the tying run and Laird scored Hood, who had singled her way on base, with a sacrifice fly for the go-ahead run. Schaffer then launched a three-run homer.
Big Sky stretched its lead to 11-3 in the fourth with Laird going solo over the left-field fence and Laird booming a three-run. The Bulldogs bounced back with five runs to close to within 11-8 in the last of the fourth. The Eagles committed two errors, scoring one run and setting up a run driven home on a two-run singled by Gracie Ferriter after Kamber Leary rapped a base hit to left field. Rian Ferriter then drilled a homer with her younger sister still aboard.
Big Sky answered right back with four runs in the top of the fifth. McGuinn singled to center and then scored on an error committed on a hit by Irene Griswold. Two more Butte High errors advanced runners and Hewitt being hit by a pitch filled the bags. Laird lashed a two-run single.
The Bulldogs matched the output in their next at-bats. Gracie Ferriter got an RBI for being hit by a pitch with the sacks packed after Ally Godbout delivered a run-scoring single. Rian Ferriter’s ground ball scored the third run and the fourth was Gracie Ferriter strolling home on a bases-loaded walk to Bryn Godbout.
Big Sky’s lead was 15-12 through five innings.
Eagle pinch hitter Myleigh Kukay knocked in two runs with a bases-loaded single, and Hewitt singled to left to knock in two more. Hewitt scored on a base hit by Laird and Big Sky led 20-12 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ashby Lee singled with one out for Butte High and ran home an out and a walk later on a base hit by Gracie Ferriter.
Big Sky padded its 20-13 cushion with four runs in the seventh frame. McGuinn mashed a one-out solo home run and Hood went yard on a three-run rocket, her third homer of the game.
Still, Butte High scrapped back and tallied three runs in the bottom of the last inning before being put out on the bases to end the game. Swanson swatted a home run to left-center with one out and nobody on base. An out later, Maddi Jonart walked and Taylor Drakos reached safely when her accidental bunt spun away from Big Sky pitcher Liberty Rogers. Lee then smashed a double to left field, plating both Jonart and Drakos.
Gracie Ferriter finished with four runs batted in and her older sister, Rian, drove in three. Bryn Godbout drove in four runs. Swanson and Drakos notched three hits apiece. Leary, Lee and Ally Godbout had two hits each. Butte High was without regular center fielder Dacelyn Lafond, who injured a shoulder making a diving catch in Helena on Tuesday and is expected to miss a few games, coaches said.
“We had one bad inning, defensively,” Stosich said. “Again, we have to clean some things up and make the routine plays. “I thought we competed well and we hit the ball well against a good pitcher.”
The Bulldogs are 1-7 for the season and 1-5 in conference games going into a Western AA road clash at Kalispell Glacier on Friday. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Big Sky is 7-2 overall and 5-1 in league action. The Eagles were coming off a 13-2 Thursday win over Missoula Sentinel and is to play on Saturday at home against Helena High.
Big Sky 115 445 4 – 24 18 3
Butte High 300 541 3 – 16 17 5
Liberty Rogers and Grace Hood. Rian Ferriter, Kamber Leary (4), Ashby Lee (6), R. Ferriter (7) and Gracie Ferriter. W – Rogers. L – R. Ferriter (1-7).
MISSOULA BIG SKY (7-2, 5-1) – Kyler Latrielle 1-5, Grace Hood 4-5, Logan Baack 1-3, Mileigh Kukay 2-2, Breanna Hewitt 1-2, Delaney Laird 3-4, Gianna Janacaro 0-1, Brooke Schaffer 1-5, Jordan Whitmire 1-5, Sadie McGuinn 3-5, Irene Griswold 1-3.
BUTTE HIGH (1-7, 1-5) – Kamber Leary 2-4, Gracie Ferriter 2-4, Rian Ferriter 1-4, Madisyn Swanson 3-4, Bryn Godbout 1-4, Maddi Jonart 1-4, Taylor Drakos 3-5, Hailey Skeel 0-0, Ashby Lee 2-4, Ally Godbout 2-4.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Laird, A. Godbout, Lee. HR – Hood 3, Schaffer, Laird, McGuinn, B. Godbout, R. Ferriter, Swanson.
Runs batted in – Big Sky 22 (Laird 7, Hood 5, Hewitt 3, Schaffer 3, Kukay 2, Whitmire 1, McGuinn 1), Butte 15 (G. Ferriter 4, B. Godbout 4, R. Ferriter 3, Lee 2, Swanson 1, A. Godbout 1).