Stevensville deflects late Butte Central rally at Combo

By Bruce Sayler
Rain visited the Stodden Park diamonds several time Saturday afternoon, almost like it was afraid it would miss the rally.
Butte Central rallied, late. However, two-run edge the Maroons gained with their seven-run sixth inning didn’t hold and Stevensville prevailed 14-12 in the Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ softball game. It dropped the curtain on this year’s 26-team LaVerne Combo Invitational tournament, a two-day competition among several of Montana’s Class A and B softball teams, along with Butte High’s junior varsity, traditionally played in poor weather.
Nothing new occurred this year in that regard.
“We’re starting to get better,” Butte Central head coach Chunky Thatcher said. “We have a lot of youg kids and we’ve been outside for only six practices. We make some mistakes.”
The Maroons committed eight errors.
“But, I liked today that we put the ball in play, swung at the ball and were aggressive,” Thatcher continued. “Nothing happens if you don’t swing.”
Plenty happened late in the game.
Stevensville had a 10-5 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning and looked to be cruising.
Freshman first baseman Arika Stajcar started the frame off for the Maroons and clouted a double into the left-center field gap. Senior catcher Mia Keeley beat out an infield hit that moved Stajcar to third base. Eighth-grader Marley Mansanti went in as the courtesy runner for Keeley and BC had runners at the corners with nobody out.
Junior second baseman Renee Creekmore singled to center, bringing Stajcar home after a strikeout. Another batter went down on strikes before senior pitcher Hattie Mehring drew a walk to load the bases. Junior center fielder Kathryn Lalicker drilled a croquet shot between pitcher Jaden Fisher’s legs and Mansanti scored, keeping the bags full. Senior shortstop Brooke Bradovinac boomed a double to the left-field fence as Creekmore and Mehring both scored. Senior third baseman Jaeden Berger then singled to left field and both Lalicker and Badovinac came home with the tying and go-ahead runs.
Starting pitcher Morgan Yeager was summoned from first base to relieve her reliever, Fisher, who had taken over in the circle during the fifth inning. Stajcar greeted her back with a down the left-field line to knock in Berger. Yeager then induced a popup to end the inning.
The lead, however, was short-lived.
Pinch-hitter Kacey Springer singled to left field to start the seventh inning and Jaidan Oyler followed with a double to left field. Ally Zeiler was running for Springer and dashed home on a wild pitch. Serenity Scott tied the score 12-all with a sacrifice fly to right field, which brought Oyler home. After a flyout, the Yellowjackets strung four straight singles by Fisher, Maddy Davids, Lilly Newsom and Yeager to score the go-ahead and insurance runs.
Butte Central tried to mount another rally as eighth-grader left fielder Alex Morey reached base on an error. Young, however, retired the next three Maroons on strikes, a groundout and a popup foul that ended the game and the tournament.
Badovinac hit her seventh home run of the season and batted in five runs for BC as she, Lalicker, Berger, Stajcar and Creekmore collected two hits apiece. Davids led Stevensville with a 4-for-5 effort and Oyler was 4-for-6 as the Yellowjackets clubbed 18 hits.
“I’m happy with it,” Thatcher said. “The younger girls on this team have improved 150 percent in just this short time of this season. It was a good weekend. “
Stevensville scored two runs in the first inning as Davids traced the third baseline with a two-out triple after an error and a walk put Yellowjackets on base. Butte Central answered with a run in the bottom of the inning when Badovinac toured the bases on a pair of errors after her flyball to right field.
A walk to Kaytie Weiss and an infield hit by Oyler set up a run-scoring single by Scott to left field. The Maroons were blanked in the second inning, so Stevi led 3-1.
Davids was safe on a one-out error and rode home on a Yeager double for a 4-1 Yellowjacket lead in the top of the third. Badovinac cut the difference to 4-3 in the bottom half with her two-run blast to the opposite field. Mehring had drawn a walk.
Oyler circled the bases on a pair of BC errors to start the fourth inning and Sophie Berning singled, then scored on a Davids double to increase the Yellowjacket lead to 6-3 through four innings. It went to 8-3 in the top of the fifth when Yeager reached on an error and wound up scoring on a Springer sacrifice fly and Layla Brushia got on base via an accidental bunt and scored on a bloop single by Oyler.
Butte Central scored twice in the its half of the fifth. Mehring worked a walk and came home on a triple to left-enter by Lalicker. Then Lalicker raced home on a groundout by Badovinac after Fisher took over at pitcher.
Stevensville got its 10-5 margin in the top of the sixth on a two-run double by Newsom after base hits by Fisher and Davids.
The Maroons will close the regular season on Tuesday with a 5 p.m. home game against East Helena at Stodden Park.
Stevensville 211 222 4 – 14 18 2
Butte Central 102 027 0 – 12 11 8
Morgan Yeager, Jaden Fischer (5), Yeager (6) and Sophie Berning. Hattie Mehring and Mia Keeley. W – Yeager. L – Mehring.
STEVENSVILLE – Jaiden Oyler 4-6, Serenity Scott 2-4, Sophie Berning 1-3, Jaden Fisher 1-5, Maddy Davids 4-5, Lilly Newsom 2-5, Morgan Yeager 2-5, Layla Brushia 1-4, Kaytie Weiss 0-1, Kacey Springer 1-1, Mia Palmer 0-0.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-11, 1-10) – Hattie Mehring 0-2, Kathryn Lalicker 2-4, Brooke Badovinac 2-4, Jaeden Berger 2-3, Arika Stajcar 2-4, Mia Keeley 1-4, Marley Mansanti 0-0, Alex Morey 0-3, Chloe Wright 0-0, Renee Creekmore 2-4, Sophia Gelling 0-3, Cloe Stillwagon 0-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Davids, Newsom, Oyler, Yeager, Stajcar. 3B – Davids, Lalicker. HR – Badovinac.
Runs batted in – Stevensville 8 (Davids 3, Newsom 2, Scott 1, Yeager 1, Springer 1), Butte Central 10 (Badovinac 5, Berger 2, Lalicker 1, Stajcar 1, Creekmore 1).

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