By Bruce Sayler
A tough inning for Butte High in a game played in atrociously windy conditions cost the Bulldogs their softball win streak on Tuesday.
Western AA Conference rival Missoula Sentinel put a nine-spot on the Bulldogs in the fourth inning and used it as a springboard to a 13-8 victory over them at Stodden Park.
Cold, gusting winds ruined what could have been a nice summery softballish day on the diamonds. Sentinel fared the better.
“I thought it was a little sloppy on both sides,” Ryan Stosich, head coach of the Bulldogs, said. “Conditions were why both teams were a little sloppy. The wind was playing havoc with the ball. (The Spartans) are a good team. Take back that bad inning, that fourth inning, and a couple of little things we didn’t do well and it is a different game.
“But, our kids kept battling and crawling back into it and I liked seeing that.”
The outcome was certainly not what the Butte High coaches were seeking, but Stosich was happy with the continued progress and poise shown by his young team. A passel of freshmen and sophomores were in the Bulldogs’ lineup, again and stood in well against the junior- and senior-laden Sentinel roster.
Butte High had won its last three games, all in conference, going into the Tuesday set-to with the contending Spartans.
The tell-tale fourth inning saw Sentinel club five hits while scoring nine runs, benefitting, too, from three Bulldog errors. A walk and a hit batter awarded the Spartans added to the Butte High woes in the inning.
“We knew we’d have to hit with them and I think we did that,” Stosich said with the boxscore showing a dozen hits for each side. “A lot of our players are green and still learning. And, they will learn from their mistakes today.”
Junior catcher Emma Ries knocked in four runs with three hits, including a home run and a double, to pace the Spartans. Senior designated player Cassidy Schweitzer plated two runs and scored two while banging out a pair of hits. Senior shortstop Kodi Fraser belted a triple. The efforts backed a complete game pitched by junior left-hander Jayden Gagner, who walked two batters and struck out two. She had no strikeouts until the last inning.
Senior shortstop Kodie Hoagland batted three-for-four for Butte High. She and junior second baseman Bryn Godbout both doubled, and freshman right fielder Brityn Stewart walloped a triple. Stewart, junior first baseman and pitcher Rian Ferriter and sophomore third baseman Kamber Leary smacked a pair of hits each. Godbout, senior left fielder Joscelyn Cleveland and senior catcher Jordyn Bolton each hammered a hit. Freshman Ashlinn Mullaney shared pitching duties with Ferriter.
Butte High took the first lead with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Leary led it off with a single, but was erased at second base on a fielder’s choice. An out later, Godbout clubbed a run-scoring double to center field, then ran home on Stewart’s triple into the left-field corner.
Sentinel got on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the fourth. Haley Wolsky beat out a one-out infield hit and stole second base. After Mullaney registered her third strikeout, Fraser crashed a triple to right, past a diving fielder. Wolsky scored.
The Bulldogs then built on their one-run lead with a four-run third. Freshman designated player Gracie Ferriter led off with a walk. After an out, Rian Ferriter, Leary and Cleveland chained singles to deliver two runs, aided by a Spartan error. Bolton was then safe on an error as Leary scored.
Then, all, uh, heck broke loose. Sentinel erupted for its nine-run fourth inning.
A walk, hit batsman and infield hit loaded the bases with nobody out. Two ran in on a base hit by Schweitzer and then two more came in as Morgan Olson reached on an error that also saw a held ball facilitate the second run. Sentinel had taken the lead, 5-4, and then expanded it.
Stella Summerfield singled in a run and Fraser doubled into the left-center alley. A Butte High error let both runners score. Ries then smashed her two-run homer over the left-field fence. Sentinel owned a 10-6 spread.
The Bulldogs took one of the runs back in their half of the fourth with Hoagland doubling to center field, then using her speed to pressure Sentinel into an ill-advised fielder’s choice that allowed Hoagland to dash safely home on the mistake.
Butte High inched closer with a run in the fifth. Bolton was safe again on a Spartan error. Dacelyn LaFond was her courtesy runner and advanced home on consecutive singles by Stewart and Hoagland.
The difference was only two runs, Sentinel leading 10-8 going into the sixth frame. Sentinel responded with two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, and Gagner retired six of the last seven Bulldogs she faced, the last two on strikes.
Ries ripped a two-run double in the sixth inning, and Schweitzer scored on a groundout in the seventh after lacing a single up the middle, stealing second base and getting to third on a groundout.
Butte High will be on the road this weekend for its next action with Western AA Conference games in Kalispell – versus Glacier on Friday and Flathead on Saturday. The Bulldogs are 3-6 for the season, 3-2 in league games. Sentinel stands at 5-3 for the year, 3-0 in the Western AA.
Sentinel 001 902 1 — 13 12 4
Butte High 024 110 0 — 8 12 3
Jayden Gagner and Emma Ries. Ashlinn Mullaney, Rian Ferriter (5), Mullaney (6) and Jordyn Bolton. W – Gagner. L – Mullaney.
MISSOULA SENTINEL (5-3, 3-0) — Haley Wolsky 1-5, Stella Summerfield 2-5, Kodi Fraser 3-4, Amy Taylor 0-3, Emma Ries 3-3, Kennedy Dypwick 0-3, Jayden Gagner 1-4, Cassidy Schweitzer 2-4, Raquel Reed 0-0, Morgan Olson 0-3.
BUTTE HIGH (3-6, 3-2) — Kodie Hoagland 3-4, Gracie Ferriter 0-2, Taylor Drakos 0-0, Kiahna Wetzel 0-0, Ashlinn Mullaney 0-4, Rian Ferriter 2-4, Natalie Lynch 0-0, Kamber Leary 2-4, Joscelyn Cleveland 1-4, Jordyn Bolton 1-4, Dacelyn LaFond 0-0, Bryn Godbout 1-3, Brityn Stewart 2-4.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Fraser, Ries, Godbout, Hoagland. 3B – Fraser, Stewart. HR – Ries.
Runs batted in – Sentinel 9 (Ries 4, Schweitzer 2, Wolsky 1, Summerfield 1, Fraser 1), Butte High 5 (Hoagland 1, Leary 1, Cleveland 1, Godbout 1, Stewart 1).