Hamilton two-hits Butte Central for softball win

By Bruce Sayler

The first four batters in Butte Central’s high school softball lineup will graduate in a few weeks.
And, head coach Chunky Thatcher is perfectly fine with that … because after passing eighth grade and leaving junior high they’ll still have four years to play for Thatcher’s Maroons.
A strong, good, veteran Hamilton squad beat the Maroons 18-1 Friday at Stodden Park. The Southwestern A Conference game ended after five innings on the 10-run difference rule, but Thatcher seems to think anytime the so-young Butte Central team plays, something is still won.
If victory isn’t captured, experience is and so is the deepening of team concept. The two seniors on the BC roster are certainly outnumbered by the 10 eighth-graders, and in between are three sophomores and four freshmen – no juniors. Six from grade eight played Friday.
“We’re trying to get better every week,” Thatcher said, “and, we are. We were down 9-1 today (after four innings) with six unearned runs (charged Butte Central).”
He shrugged.
“They’re eighth-graders,” he said. “They want to win enthused about (the possibility) it and it’s about learning, right now.”
The loss Friday, though, came with some pain. It was the Maroons’ 12th loss this year without experiencing a win yet (according to reported scores). Some tears were seen on faces in the dugout. The coach didn’t like seeing the girls sad, but he liked that the emotion showed.
“When there’s tears, they care,” he said.
So, he and his staff have taken on the task of wiping those tears away with wins, and it is, indeed, a learning process, especially when the players are so young and inexperienced.
Hamilton junior pitcher Mel Race fired a two-hitter at the BC girls with both hits being singles by eighth-grader first baseman Kodee Badovinac.
Sophomore Arika Stajcar and eighth-grader Braelynn Schelin handled the pitching chores for Butte Central. In the field, the Maroons committed five errors. They are improving, though the stats don’t always bark out the evidence.
The BC girls actually led first. They took a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first inning as leadoff batter Kenzie McQueary drew a walk and stole second base to set up the scoring chance. After a foul popup and a groundout, McQueary got home on Badovinac’s swinging bunt that the Broncs bobbled in the infield. A walk and strikeout followed.
The strikeout was the first of eight Race registered for the game, against three walks.
Hamilton took the lead for good in its next at-bats. Race and sophomore Hadley Lockhart worked walks to start the inning and freshman Kennedi Cooper dragged a bunt up the line that provided Race enough room to score from second base. An error allowed Cooper first base while Lockhart motored on to third.
An out later, Lockhart ran home on a wild pitch just before junior Addison Flynn’s sacrifice fly to deep center field brought in Cooper.
It was the first of three three-run innings for the Broncs.
In the third, senior Haylee Beall was hit by a pitch and sped home on senior Cierra Cole’s triple to right field. Cole scored on an error while sophomore Mariah Johnson made it to second base. Race singled to right and an error ensued. Johnson scored on it.
Flynn singled to open the fourth inning, went to second on a wild pitch and home on a base hit to center by sophomore Dawsyn Ekin. Two batters later, Cole pasted a pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.
Hamilton, owning a 9-1 lead, doubled its total in the top of the fifth. The Broncs pounded out nine hits in the inning and benefitted from two Butte Central errors. Beall slugged a two-run opposite-field home run to right-center, and Johnson, Race, Cooper and Flynn whacked run-scoring hits as the Hamilton highlights for the inning.
The Maroons will be home again on Saturday with a conference game at 11 a.m. against Corvallis. Seniors Kathryn Lalicker and Cloe Stillwagon and their families will be honored in Senior Day festivities.
Hamilton raised its record to 8-5 with the win in reported games this season.
Hamilton 033 39x x – 18 15 1
Butte Central 100 00x x — 1 2 5
Mel Race and Hadley Lockhart. Arika Stajcar, Braelynn Schelin (3) and Natalie Osterman. W – Race. L – Stajcar.
HAMILTON – Addison Flynn 2-3, Casey Kennedy 0-0, Dawsyn Ekin 2-4, Haylee Beall 1-4, Cierra Cole 3-3, Mariah Johnson 1-3, Mel Race 2-4, Bryn Cianflone 0-0, Hadley Lockhart 0-3, Kennedi Cooper 2-3, Taylee Conley 2-4.
BUTTE CENTRAL – Kenzie McQueary 0-2, Natalie Osterman 0-3, Braelynn Schelin 0-2, Kodee Badovinac 2-2, Kathryn Lalicker 0-1, Arika Stajcar 0-1, Evyn Smith 0-1, Cloe Stillwagon 0-1, Marly Mansanti 0-0, Chloe Wright 0-1, Jaedyn Maldonado 0-1, Sophia Gelling 0-2.
Extra-base hits – 3B – Cole. HR – Cole, Beall.
Runs batted in – Hamilton 12 (Cole 3, Flynn 2, Ekin 2, Beall 2, Johnson 1, Race 1, Cooper 1), Butte Central 0.