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Piazzola fans 12 (again), Maroons clinch SWA title

Piazzola fans 12 (again), Maroons clinch SWA title
Butte Central's Teresa Piazzola delivers a pitch Saturday at Stodden Park. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

Really, winning is not as easy as this group of girls makes it look.
The Butte Central Maroons won their third Southwestern A Conference championship in high school girls’ sports this school year when they clinched the softball title on Saturday. The BC girls locked it up with an 8-3 victory over Corvallis at Stodden Park.
The Maroons will be a No. 1 seed in the Class A state tournament at the end of the month by virtue of capturing the league throne.
The championship follows the league volleyball and basketball crowns they captured earlier during the 2015-16 calendar. Almost all of the BC girls played on at least one of the previous league championship squads, some played on both.
The volleyball team went on to capture second place at the Western A SuperDivisional and then third place at the state Class A tournament, the best finish in the history of the program. Two months ago, the Maroons added the state basketball championship to their conference and divisional titles, completing an unbeaten season.
“We’ve earned every win we have,” Butte Central softball head coach Kelci Thatcher said. “The girls won the conference championship and it was nice that conference games matter. We don’t have to go a divisional tournament and again prove we’re conference champions.”
Thatcher credited seniors Teresa Piazzola, Shawnee Hjelt and McKenzie Gallagher for leading the Maroons through the season, and some individuals who shined in Saturday’s clincher.
The win took the BC club to 6-0 in conference play and 10-2 overall.
Piazzola struck out 12 batters after whiffing another dozen earlier in the day while beating Hamilton 8-4. She went the full route, both games, totaling 14 innings in the circle while raising her record to 9-1.
“She’s tired. She threw a lot of pitches,” Thatcher said. “But, she wanted to finish the day out. There was no pressure because I still had McKenzie Gallagher and Kloie Thatcher, if needed, to pitch, and they, too, can both do a phenomenal job.”
Corvallis barely reached the ace until the last inning when the Blue Devils spoiled her shutout with three runs on three hits. The Maroon offense had staked Piazzola to a pretty comfortable 8-0 lead by then.
Coach Thatcher acknowledged the offense performed dependably, but spotlighted the defense, too. A couple of throw-outs by junior catcher Corbyn Holm were big plays, as was a play she and second baseman Taylor Wahl executed to prevent a run.
Kiley Mullen had clubbed a leadoff triple to deep left field to start the Corvallis third inning. Lydia Powell then tapped back to Piazzola, who chased Mullen back to third base before deciding not to risk the throw on Powell to first base, leaving runners on the corners with no outs on the fielder’s choice. Nicole Turner then struck out as Powell dashed for second base on the third strike. Holm threw while watching Mullen at third. Mullen did break for home and Wahl returned the throw, a sizzler to Holm at the plate in plenty of time to catch Mullen before she could touch the plate. Taia Tully then flied out to Hjelt at third base, ending the threat.
Butte Central took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of some wildness by Blue Devil starting pitcher Kayla Fields. The Maroons loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a hit batter. After Piazzola walked to force in a run and keep the bases loaded, Corvallis coach Steve Tintzman relieved Fields with Tully.
She retired BC on a comebacker that forced an out at the plate, and on a pop foul behind home.
Butte Central tallied three runs in the second. Gallagher beat out an infield hit that ricocheted off third baseman Kambrey Powell. Megan Michelotti reached on an error. Two straight fielder’s choices forced runners out at third base before Mollie Peoples delivered a run-scoring single up the middle. Holm followed with a two-run base hit, also grounded into center field.
The Maroons made it a 6-0 game with two runs in the fourth frame. Corvallis lost a scoring chance in its half of the inning when Kambrey Powell singled, but was then thrown out by Holm trying to steal second base.
BC cashed in its chance. Kloie Thatcher walked, Peoples reached on an infield hit and Holm on an error to fill the bags with one out, setting up a two-run single Piazzola lined that glanced off Tully and traveled into right-center field.
Butte Central’s last two runs were registered in the fifth. Thatcher drew a walk. Two errant throws on the next play allowed Hjelt to reach third base on a high throw over first, and Thatcher to score on a bad throw to the plate. Peoples then knocked in Hjelt with a single to center. It was Peoples’ third hit.
Piazzola hit Lydia Powell with a pitch with one out in the top of the seventh. Turner then blooped a base hit behind third base. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. Turner scored her team’s first run when Tully lined a shot off of Piazzola that caromed toward first base. Tully was safe on the hit. Piazzola was fine, too. She induced a groundout before Hannah Brown poked a two-run single to right field.
Piazzola finished the game on the next batter, getting Kira Doyle to ground out to Wahl.
“We made good plays, defensively,” coach Thatcher said. “Now, we have to keep our competitive edge over the next two weeks.”
She said she doesn’t really expect it to be a problem, given the experience the Maroons have absorbed the last several months in championship settings.
“Big games, pressure, mental preparation,” coach Thatcher said, “all of them have been through the show. Some of them have twice this school year. I think that helps us. This whole crew of girls has played basketball or volleyball, or both.”
Both teams wound up with seven hits. Piazzola issued two walks against her 12 strikeouts. Kloie Thatcher scored four runs. She was 0-for-1, but reached base on three walks and a fielder’s choice. Megan Michelotti lined out hard twice to the left side.
Corvallis pitchers struck out two and walked five. The Blue Devils committed four errors.
Butte Central will continue in regular-season play with a conference game at Dillon on Tuesday, then will play host to its annual LaVerne Combo Memorial Invitational tournament next weekend.

Corvallis 000 000 3 — 3 7 4
Butte Central 130 220 x — 8 7 1
Kayla Fields, Taia Tully (1) and Taia Tully, Megan Bradshaw (1). Teresa Piazzola and Corbyn Holm. W — Piazzola (9-1). L — Fields.
CORVALLIS — Nicole Turner 2-3, Taia Tully 1-4, Kambrey Powell 2-4, Hannah Brown 1-3, Kira Doyle 0-2, Bobbie Stephen 0-1, Kayla Fields 0-0, Megan Bradshaw 0-3, Kiley Mullen 1-3, Lydia Powell 0-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (10-2, 6-0) — Kloie Thatcher 0-1, Shawnee Hjelt 0-3, Mollie Peoples 3-4, Corbyn Holm 1-3, Teresa Piazzola 2-3, Taylor Wahl 0-4, Cassidy Criscuolo 0-3, McKenzie Gallagher 1-4, Megan Michelotti 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — K. Powell. 3B — Mullen.
Runs batted in — Corvallis 3 (Brown 2, Tully 1), Butte Central 7 (Piazzola 3, Peoples 2, Holm 2). 1 comment



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1 Comment

  • Jack Clark
    May 7, 2016, 11:39 pm

    Congratulations on the conference title! Well deserved. Finish the regular season strong.

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