Paffhausen, Maroons top Broncs in semifinal

ANACONDA — Saturday’s classic softball battle between Butte Central and Hamilton at the Charlotte Yeoman-Martin Complex will forever be remembered as the Shelby Paffhausen Game.

The Butte Central senior center fielder was the hero for the Maroons four a couple of big, big reasons as the Maroons topped Hamilton 1-0 in eight innings of the undefeated semifinal game of the Southwestern A Divisional tournament.

Paffhausen made a remarkable catch to send the game to the extra inning, where she smoked a double down the line in left field to score classmate Cassidy McGree with the game winning run in the top of the inning.

The Maroons will play Hamilton or Anaconda — the teams are playing now in the third-place game — in the 4 p.m. championship game. The winner will have to beat BC twice to win the title.

The play of the semifinal game — and perhaps the play of the decade — came on the game-saving catch.

Moments after the Maroons issued an unintentional intentional walk to Hamilton star Taylor Goligoski to load the bases with one out, freshman catcher Corbyn Holm made a nice catch on a foul pop by Tayler Reynolds.

Then Shaylan Mohn drilled a low liner to the gap in right-center field.

Paffhausen got a perfect jump on the play, ran the ball down, leaped a little and somehow came down with the ball as she slid on the grass to end the inning.

“It was in the top of my glove,” Paffhausen said. “All it took was one little leap, but I wanted it. I didn’t want to lose.

“It was definitely in the gap, but I took a good angle to get there,” Paffhausen continued. “I just had to jump, I think, right at the end. I ended up sliding at the end. It was almost in the gap, it was close. It was a good hit.”

Count senior pitcher Mikayla Boggs as among the vast majority who didn’t think Paffhausen had a chance to catch the ball when it left Mohn’s bat.

“I almost cried when she caught it,” Boggs said.

McGree led off the top of the eighth with a single she stole second before Hamilton ace Brie Clifford struck out Kate Ossello and Shawnee Hjelt to bring Paffhausen to the plate with two out.

She wasn’t there long.

Paffhausen turned on the first pitch and drilled a double to the fence, easily scoring McGree, the only Maroon with two hits in the game. McGree also stole two bases.

“She came up big, too,” Paffhausen said. “We needed her on base.”

Paffhausen said the catch gave her a good feeling going to the plate.

“It felt so good,” she said. “I think I had more confidence going up to the plate that last time because I wanted to win so bad. I wanted to score Cass.”

Of course, Hamilton didn’t go quietly in the bottom of the eight. Lauren Delcater singled to lead off the inning. Sydney Bergren reached on a fielder’s choice, and Delcater was forced out at second.

Bergren took second when Boggs got Lacey Dolcater to ground out softly to Hjelt at second. Kloie Nole, the No. 9 hitter, hit a hard shot to shortstop, but freshman Taylor Wahl was there to gun her down to end the game.

It was one of many times the Maroons dodged a bullet in the game that kept the large crowd on pins and needles throughout.

The Broncs got a runner on third in each of the first three innings, but stellar defense by the BC infield kept them off the board.

In the third, Boggs started an inning-ending double play by fielding a hard shot from Dolcater and throwing to first. Then first baseman Mollie Peoples fired a shot to Holm to nail Goligoski at the plate.

Hamilton left seven runners on base, as the Broncs pounded seven hits and two batters reached on borderline errors.

Boggs, who got the start in place of injured Teresa Piazzola, worked out of the trouble by striking out seven and letting her infield do its thing.

Rylee Green made good plays at third to go along with slick defense from Wahl at short, Hjelt at second and Peoples at first.

“It was crazy. I wasn’t getting too much action before that one,” Paffhausen said. “Just watching my team, defensively we were doing so well.”

Paffhausen had praise for Boggs, who has been the story of the season since Piazzola first left a game with an injury nine days ago.

“She is pitching so well,” Paffhausen said.”She has been doing phenomenal for us.”

The win lifted the Maroons to 16-6 on the season. They are now 11-1 against Southwestern A teams.

BC, which is looking for its first state title since the 2000 team completed its second straight undefeated season, will play at the Class A State tournament next week in Polson.

The Maroons will be joined by Anaconda and Hamilton. What seed each team is will be determined today.

Thanks to Paffhausen’s big game, the Maroons can do no worse than second.

Butte Central             000  000  01 — 1  4  2
Hamilton                    000  000  00 — 0  7  0
Mikayla Boggs and Corbyn Holm; Brie Clifford and Katie Wickham. W — Boggs (6-3). L — Clifford.
BUTTE CENTRAL (16-6)  — Shawnee Hjelt 1-4, Shelby Paffhausen 1-4, Taylor Wahl 0-4, Mollie Peoples 0-3, Holm 0-2, Boggs 0-2, Emily St. John 0-0, Rylee Green 0-3, Cassidy McGree 2-3, Kate Ossello 0-3.
HAMILTON — McKayl Rothie 0-4, Clifford 2-4, Taylor Goligoski 2-3, Tayler Reynolds 1-4, Shaylan Mohn 0-3, Lauren Dolcater 2-3, Sydney Bergren 0-4, Lacey Dolcater 0-4, Kloie Nye 0-4.
2B — Goligoski; Paffhausen.
RBI — Paffhausen.



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