Split with Bravettes likely leaves Bulldogs home

By Bruce Sayler
Further probing is likely, but both the Flathead High and Butte High girls’ softball teams left Stodden Park Saturday thinking their doubleheader split rewarded the visitors from Kalispell with a state Class AA tournament and left Butte High on the outside looking in.
Flathead edged the Bulldogs 6-5 in the first game and then Butte High belted the Bravettes 14-4 in six innings in the second. Both counted in the Western AA Conference standings and tied them for sixth place in the league as the regular season ended.
Both posted 3-11 Western AA records and split wins in their two games against each other. Coaches interpreted that Flathead, however, took the sixth and last spot from the conference for next weekend’s state AA tournament in Helena.
The explanation was the tiebreaker that would decide the matter was won-lost records against Class AA opposition. Since they had the exactly same records in Western AA, the non-conference Class AA ledgers would be put to use. Butte High finished 4-15 overall this season, going 1-4 in non-conference Class AA games. The Bulldogs beat Bozeman High of Eastern AA and lost to Eastern A entries Bozeman Gallatin, Great Falls High and Belgrade, and Western AA’s Missoula Sentinel. Butte High and Sentinel met in a non-league tilt after their Western AA counter in Butte recently.
Flathead was 5-19 overall, including a 1-1 mark against non-conference Class AA teams, defeating Great Falls High and losing to C.M. Russell. The Bravettes played three games against Class A opponents, splitting a pair of contests with Columbia Falls and losing to Polson, going 1-2 against the smaller enrollment class. However, according to the interpretation thought to be in effect Saturday, Flathead’s 1-1 non-league Class AA record bests Butte High’s 1-4.
Senior day festivities honoring the three Bulldog senior players – Rian Ferriter, Bryn Godbout and Maddi Jonart and their families – preceded the twin bill.
Flathead 6, Butte High 5
Flathead led all the way but had to weather a last-inning rally by the Bulldogs. Butte High entered the last of the seventh inning behind 6-3. Ally Godbout and Rian Ferriter whacked back-to-back singles to start the rally. An out later, Madisyn Swanson clubbed a base hit to left field that scooted between the legs of the fielder. Godbout and courtesy runner Avery Barsness both scored, cutting the difference to 6-5.
Dacelyn Lafond blooped a base hit behind second base, but the threat died and game ended as Bravette pitcher Lacie Franklin struck out the next two batters.
“That first game we made too many mistakes,” Ryan Stosich, head coach of the Bulldogs, said. “Mental mistakes cost us. But, we stayed in it, proud of the girls for that, and we had a chance to win it at the end. We just couldn’t get that timely hit.
“(The Bravettes) made a couple of more plays than we did.”
Flathead established a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Makenzie Brandt powered a triple into the right-field corner to start the game and held the bag when Ava Besson got on base via an error. Sawyer Van Campen bounced out to pitcher Rian Ferriter as Brandt raced home. A strikeout later, Laynie Vessar slugged a two-run homer.
Butte High’s first two batters, Kamber Leary and Ally Godbout, singled to start the bottom of the inning, but two fielder’s choices and a flyout kept any Bulldog from getting home.
The Bravettes made it 4-0 in the second when Brynn Mailman beat out a two-out infield hit, stole second base, took third on the errant pickoff throw and scored on another error.
Lafond led off the Butte High second by reaching on an error, then scored the Bulldogs’ first run when Bryn Godbout bashed a double to left field.
Rian Ferriter hit a one-out double in the bottom of the third. Swanson singled an out later, bringing Ferriter courtesy runner Sophie Radcliffe home with the team’s second run.
Rian Ferriter closed the gap to 4-3 in the fifth with a one-out solo home run over center field. The Bulldogs put two more runners on base in the inning, but neither was able to make it home.
Flathead widened its lead to 6-3 in the top of the seventh inning on Van Campen’s home run to center field with Besson aboard via a leadoff single. The Bravettes threatened to score more with a single and walk setting the table, but Ferriter coaxed two forceouts and a strikeout to deny the opportunity.
Flathead then survived Butte High’s last-inning comeback.
Ferriter batted 3-for-4 with a home run and, as the pitcher, struck out nine batters and walked only two.
Ally Godbout and Swanson had two hits apiece. The Bulldogs outhit the Bravettes 10-8.
Flathead 310 000 2 – 6 8 4
Butte High 011 010 2 – 5 10 4
Lacie Franklin and Laynie Vessar. Rian Ferriter and Gracie Ferriter. W – Franklin. L – R. Ferriter.
FLATHEAD – Makenzie Brant 1-3, Ava Besson 2-3, Sawyer Van Campen 1-4, Kaidyn Lake 1-4, Laynie Vessar 2-3, Macey McIlhargey 0-4, Kinsey Lake 0-4, Ellie Eve 0-3, Brynn Mailman 0-3.
BUTTE HIGH – Kamber Leary 1-4, Ally Godbout 2-4, Rian Ferriter 3-4, Avery Barsness 0-0, Gracie Ferriter 0-3, Madisyn Swanson 2-4, Allie Becker 0-0, Dacelyn Lafond 1-4, Ashby Lee 0-2, Sophie Radcliffe 0-1, Hailey Skeel 0-0, Bryn Godbout 1-3, Taylor Drakos 0-3.
Extra-base hits – 2B – B. Godbout, R. Ferriter. 3B – Brandt. HR – Vessar, Van Campen, R. Ferriter.
Runs batted in – Flathead 5 (Van Campen 3, Vessar 2), Butte High 4 (Swanson 2, R. Ferriter 1, B. Godbout 1).
Butte High 14, Flathead 4
A more relaxed Butte High squad turned the tables on Flathead in the second game, though the tournament spot was already thought to have been decided.
Kamber Leary and Hailey Skeel collected three hits apiece, the Bulldogs notched 16 hits as a team, and Gracie Ferriter drove in three runs as Butte High cruised. Madysin Swanson swatted a home run.
This time, the Bulldogs benefited from a big first inning, taking a 4-0 advantage as the visitor team on the scoreboard in this league doubleheader agreed-to format.
“In that second game, I was proud of the way our girls responded,” Stosich said. “With the pressure off, we played great. Rian pitched a great second game. Everybody hit the ball in the second game.”
With only three seniors on the roster, Butte High will bring back most of its team next year.
“They’re really young,” Stosich said of most of the players. “We need to get better defensively and quit making our pitchers work so hard.”
Leary dropped a single behind third base to start the game. She was erased on a fielder’s choice before Rian Ferriter clouted a double down the first baseline, scoring Ally Godbout. An out later, Swanson singled to center, driving in courtesy runner Reese Johnson. Lafond reached on an error and then Bryn Godbout thumped a two-run double to left field.
Brandt doubled and scored on a one-out single by Van Campen in the bottom of the inning.
The Bulldogs made it a 5-1 difference in the top of the second as Skeel doubled to center field and scored when Leary hit a single to center and the throw in got away. Swanson’s leadoff home run, a blast over the left field fence put the Butte High lead at 6-1 in the top of the third.
The eruption occurred in the top of the fifth inning. The Bulldogs sent 11 players to the plate while notching five hits and six runs, pushing their command to 12-1.
Ashby Lee and Bryn Godbout reached on consecutive errors to start the surge. Mattie Stepan followed with a single to left to load the bases. Skeel singled to left, driving in Lee. Leary’s flyball skimmed off the left-field fence for another single as Godbout scored and kept the bags full. Ally Godbout drew a walk to force Stepan home. Rian Ferriter’s sacrifice fly to center field brought Skeel home. Gracie Ferriter drilled a single into center field, knocking in both Leary and Ally Godbout. Butte High owned a 12-1 bulge.
Needing to score a run to avoid the game ending on the 10-run rule, the Bravettes plated three in the bottom of the fifth. They packed the sacks on singles by Macey McIlhargey and Kinsey Lake and a bunt for base hit by Lacie Franklin. After a flyout, Ava Besson grounded out and McIlhargey sped home from third base. Van Campen drove Lake in with a single to left and then Franklin scored on an error.
So, the game went to the sixth inning and Butte High put two more runs on the board. Ally Godbout drew a walk with two out and Skeel on base on a single. Rian Ferriter’s ground ball was mishandled and Skeel scored. Gracie Ferriter steamed a base hit off pitcher Besson’s glove and Ally Godbout crossed the plate.
Rian Ferriter then set the Bravettes down in order on a soft liner back to her, an infield popup and a strikeout to end the game on the run rule.
Flathead got into its own way often in the game with seven errors.
Butte High 411 062 x – 14 16 1
Flathead 100 030 x — 4 8 7
Rian Ferriter and Gracie Ferriter. Macey McIlhargey, Ava Besson (5) and Laynie Vessar. W – R. Ferriter. L – McIlhargey.
BUTTE HIGH (4-15, 3-11) – Kamber Leary 3-5, Ally Godbout 0-3, Rian Ferriter 2-4, Reese Johnson 0-0, Gracie Jonart 0-0, Gracie Ferriter 2-4, Brittyn Klima 0-0, Kendallyn Schad 0-0, Madisyn Swanson 2-3, Dacelyn Lafond 0-2, Ashby Lee 1-2, Bryn Godbout 2-3, Taylor Drakos 0-2, Mattie Stepan 1-1, Hailey Skeel 3-3.
KALISPELL FLATHEAD (5-14, 3-11) – Makenzie Brandt 2-3, Ava Besson 0-3, Sawyer Van Campen 2-3, Kaidyn Lake 0-3, Laynie Vessar 1-3, Brynn Mailman 0-3, Macey McIlhargey 1-3, Ellie Eve 0-0, Kinsey Lake 1-2, Lacie Franklin 1-2.
Extra-base hits – 2B – R. Ferriter, B. Godbout, Skeel, Brandt 2. HR – Swanson.
Runs batted in – Butte High 11 (G. Ferriter 3, Swanson 2, B. Godbout 2, Leary 1, A. Godbout 1, R. Ferriter 1, Skeel 1), Flathead 3 (Van Campen 2, Besson 1).