Red-hot BC pounds Whitefish, 11-1

The Butte Central softball team is officially on a tear.

The Maroons pounded 13 hits and beat Whitefish 11-1 in five innings Friday night on Field No. 3 at Stodden Park. The win came just hours after the Maroons beat Billings Central 12-2, also in five innings.

The games were part of the first day of the two-day Laverne Combo Invitational tournament, which features 49 games on five fields in the Mining City.

“We had a great hitting day,” Butte Central coach Kelci Thatcher said. “Twenty-three runs in not even 10 innings. That’s the most I can remember we’ve hit.”

The hits are coming from up and down the lineup, too.

“I just told them, ‘I couldn’t be more proud of you,'” Thatcher said. ” One through nine is hitting.”

The non-conference win was the eighth straight for BC, which improved 13-5 on the season.

“It’s perfect timing,” said Thatcher, whose Maroons head to Anaconda for the Southwestern A Divisional tournament next week. “I feel like we’re peaking at the right tem. The girls are buying into it, and they all have confidence in one another. If they’re not playing, they’re cheering. They just have a great team chemistry going on, and I credit that to a lot of our success.”

The coach also praised her team defense, which was highlighted by nice plays from senior third baseman Rylee Green and sophomore second baseman Shawnee Hjelt in the nightcap.

“The last three games especially or defense looks like it’s finally comfortable,” Thatcher said. “Overall it’s the most relaxed I’ve seen them play.”

The 13 hits backed up McKenzie Gallagher, a sophomore who got her first varsity start pitching. Gallagher scattered five singles and let her defense do the work behind her.

Sophomore McKenzie Gallagher delivers a first-inning pitch Friday.

“Gallagher, she hits her spots,” Thatcher said. “She doesn’t have the speed like Mikayla (Boggss) or Teresa (Piazzola), but her ability to place the ball where it needs to be placed to get ground balls is phenomenal. That’s why we can throw here.”

Gallagher’s performance came after Boggs filled in the last two games for ace pitcher Teresa Piazzola, who is expected back by divisionals.

“I can’t say enough about Boggs,” Thatcher said. “She stepped up huge yesterday against Anaconda, and she had a huge day against Billings Central. They’re first in their conference.”

Friday, the Maroons gave Gallagher more than enough run support.

The big hit of Friday’s late game came from freshman first baseman Mollie Peoples, who drilled her first career varsity home run. It was a two-run jack to left-center field that extended BC’s lead to 7-1.

Freshman shortstop Taylor Wahl doubled in a 3-for-3 effort. She scored three runs. Sophomore catcher Kate Ossello also went 3-3, while Hjelt hit two singles to join Peoples with a two-hit game.

Peoples drove in three runs, and  senior Courtney Thomas hit a two-run single. Boggs and fellow senior Shelby Paffhausen each hit a double, and Paffhausen, Wahl, Sadie McLaughlin and Ossello each drove in a run.

The Bulldogs actually led the game in the first inning. Haley Harris hit an infield single and scored on an error.

Paffhausen, though, walked and took second on Wahl’s double. She tied the game on a ground out by Peoples.

Boggs then bounced the ball over the fence in left-center to put the Maroons on top for good.

BC will try to extend the winning streak Saturday, and it won’t be easy because they play a pair of perennial contenders.

The Maroons play Laurel at 12:30 p.m. before closing the tournament against Belgrade at 4. Both games will be on Stodden’s Field No. 3.

Whitefish                    100  00 —  1   5   2
Butte Central             252  2x — 11  13  2

Jordan Sletten and Haley Harris; McKenzie Gallagher and Kate Ossello. W — Gallagher (1-0). L — Sletten.
WHITEFISH — Georgia Donaldson 1-2, Harris 2-3, Sletten 0-3, Kenzie Carl 1-1, Madi Davis 0-2, Michaela McDowell 0-2, Micah McFeeley 1-2, Savvanah Eisenbarth 0-2, Abby Reese 0-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (13-5) — Shawnee Hjelt 2-3, Shelby Paffhausen 1-2, Taylor Wahl 3-3, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Mikayla Boggs 1-3, Rylee Green 0-2, Sadie McLaughlin 0-1, Ossello 3-3, Gallagher 0-3, Courtney Thomas 1-1, Erin McGeehan 0-0.
HR — Peoples.
2B — Paffhausen, Wahl, Boggs.
RBIs — Peoples 3, Thomas 2, Paffhausen, Wahl, Green, McLaughlin, Ossello.

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