It’s almost like the Maroons picked up a final piece at the trade deadline.
Butte Central got an arm and a bat to add to its Southwestern A regular-season champion squad with the late-season return of junior Teresa Piazzola.
BC coach Kelci Thatcher showed the state what she has Friday afternoon to open the annual LaVerne Combo Invitational tournament.
Piazzola dominated in the pitcher’s circle for three perfect innings on Field No. 3 at Stodden Park. She also blasted a no-doubt home run, while Mollie Peoples drove in four runs as the Maroons routed Hardin 14-3 in five innings.
“I’m glad I’m back to hitting and pitching a little bit,” Piazzola said after striking out six of the nine batters she faced.
Coupled with junior McKenzie Gallagher, who has developed as a true No. 1 pitcher for the Maroons in the absence of Piazzola, the Maroons have a 1-1 punch that could prove very beneficial when the postseason starts next week.
“It think it will be good,” Piazzola said. “We’re two different pitchers. If we can get both of us in there, I think it will work.”
Piazzola also pointed to the pitching off freshman Kloie Thatcher, who pitched the final two innings against Hardin.
Piazzola, a junior who has been battling a lower back injury that first gave her problems last year, looked like she was throwing even faster than she has before. She will most likely be used a few innings of a time to try to keep her healthy.
“Dean is trying to have me change my step to make it shorter so there’s not as much eight on my back,” Piazzola said, referring to BC pitching coach Dean Marquardt. “As long as I do three innings like that it’s OK.”
The way the Maroons hit in Friday’s opener, of course, that the team had an overpowering pitcher was just icing on the cake. They could have won with just about anybody in the circle.
Thatcher and Emily St. Jon led off the bottom of the first inning with bunt single. They both scored when sophomore first baseman Mollie Peoples roped a triple over the right fielders head, and the rout was on.
The first five BC batters scored, as the Maroons jumped out to an 11-0 lead after two innings.
Piazzola hit a two-run home run in the second inning. It was as no-doubt as they come in high school softball.
The shot was the second of the week for Piazzola, who also homered in Wednesday’s win over Dillon.
“The other day it only cleared by about that much,” Piazzola said, holding up her thumb and index finger. “That one I knew right when I hit it.”
St. John went 3 for 4 on the day, while Taylor Wahl went 3 for 3 with three RBIs. Thatcher and Peoples each added two hits, while Megan Michelotti and Gallagher each hit one.
Corbyn Holm and Kassidy Criscuolo were the only BC players without a hit, but both drove in runs. Criscuolo drove in two, while Holm knocked in one.
Dale Perison hit a double and a two-run single to lead the Bulldogs. Allysa Roan added a single.
The Maroons play Belgrade at 6 p.m.
BC plays Whitefish and Lewistown on Saturday. The tournament is being played on six fields at Stodden and Father Sheehan Park.
Hardin 000 12 — 3 3 5
Butte Central 561 2x — 14 13 1
Kourtney Chavez and Sarah Edgar; Teresa Piazzola, Kloie Thatcher (4) and Corbyn Holm. W — Piazzola (4-1). L — Chavez.
HARDIN — Dale Parison 2-3, Ashley Offerman 0-2, Alex Bosh 0-2, Edgar 0-2, Amber Schneider 0-2, Chavez 0-2, Allsa roan 1-2, Hailey Cannon 0-1, Sadye Small 0-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-7) — Thatcher 2-2, Emily St. John 3-4, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Taylor Wahl 2-3, Holm 0-3, Piazzola 1-3, Megan Michelotti 1-3, Kassidy Criscuolo 0-3, McKenzie Gallagher 1-3.
HR — Piazzola. 3B — Peoples. 2B — Parison. RBIs — Pairison 2, Bosh; Peoples 4, Wahl 3, Piazzola 2, Criscuolo 2, Holm, Gallagher.