By Bruce Sayler
Cassidy Strizic unloaded the big blast and Zoe Doherty punched through the key hit. Butte Central’s short-handed win, however, was not secured until pitcher Makala Doherty stuck out her glove.
The Maroons beat Dillon 9-4 Saturday in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ softball game at Stodden Park. The win gave Butte Central the regular-season sweep of the Beavers. It was a rebound for Butte Central after it fell 14-6 to Hamilton earlier in the day in what was the Maroons’ home opener, even though we’re more than a month into softball season.
The Butte weather has been that uncooperative for the Maroons.
Strizic drove in three runs, including the two-run blast in the bottom of the third inning with two outs and Emma Keeley aboard via a walk. Zoe Doherty’s two-run single to left field keyed a four-run sixth inning for the Maroons after Dillon had closed to within 5-3.
Makala Doherty was pitching in the top of the seventh inning in her second stint in the circle this game. She was there because of an injury to Madison Kump that left the Maroons with eight players to place in the field. Reliever Maci Reopelle had to go shortstop. Two subs were ineligible to return due to substitution rules and so Butte Central finished the game with two outfielders.
Shylee Ledbetter worked a one-out walk in the top of the seventh for Dillon with the Beavers behind by 9-3. Madi Ruegsegger then whacked a single to newly spacious center field. Ledbetter beat a throw from the outfield to third base while Ruegsegger took second. Jess Zimmerman’s sacrifice scored Ledbetter. Kylee Pittman then walloped a line drive that looked headed for the center-field expanse, but Makala Doherty stuck out her glove and snared the liner for the game-ending out.
Butte Central head coach Kelci Thatcher and the Maroons were able to breathe relief sighs.
“Scary,” was how the coach described it. “”It was a good win, but it is the story of our season. We’re up-and-down. We’re down to 11 girls on the team, which is why we had only two outfielders in the end.”
Kump was hit in the arm by a pitch. Coach Thatcher said there was no hint yet as how serious the injury is, but the player was unable to continue in the game.
“We’ll keep plugging along and control the things we can control,” Kelci Thatcher said. “We need to execute better with runners in scoring position. Eleven kids will be challenging, but we can only get better.
“Growing pains is what I call them and that’s the way it is at Butte Central. We’re always a little low on (personnel) numbers. The best thing about this team is we don’t like to lose. They know we’re better than what we’ve been showing.”
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the second inning when the Maroons snagged a 1-0 lead. Kump led it off with a single to left, stole second base an out later, third another out later and then raced home on a wild pitch.
The lead grew to 4-0 with Butte Central’s three-run third. Sofee Thatcher reached base on a third strike passed ball, stole two bags and came home on a groundout by Zoe Doherty before Keeley waked and Strizic slugged her no-doubter of a homer.
The difference went to 5-0 in the fifth as Thatcher led off with a single up the middle, swiped the next two bases and scored an out later on a Keeley groundout to the right side.
Dillon surged back with a three-run sixth inning. Pittman smacked a two-out single to center field and scored on a double Makiya Dubois drilled into the right-center field gap. Abby Brevig singled to left and an error on the play let Dubois come home. An errant throw then allowed Brevig to run home while Alexandria Johnston reached base. Reopelle struck out Abigail Johnston to get the Maroons out of the inning.
The Beavers had fought back to within 5-3, but Butte Central blunted the comeback with its four-run sixth. Makala Doherty opened the bottom of the sixth by drawing a walk. Lexis Earles spelled her on the bases as a courtesy runner. Two outs later, Sofee Thatcher reached on an error. The runners moved up on steals before Zoe Doherty’s two-run single plated them. Keeley walked and a series of stolen bases and errant throws got Zoe Doherty home and Keeley to second base. Strizic then stung a ground-rule double through the left-field fence and Keeley trotted home.
Kump was the next batter. She was hit by the pitch and unable to continue. Butte Central, depleted of reserves, was unable to sub a player for Kump and so forfeited the at-bat for out No. 3.
Coach Thatcher credited her players’ aggressiveness on the basepaths with playing a large part in the victory.
“It was typical of our players to be active on the bases, but being smart,” she said. “They were taking good leads and stealing bases. They made good reads. If not, we would not have won this game.”
The Butte Central pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts and gave up only three walks. Pittman pitched the distance for Dillon and struck out 10 batters. She walked four. Both teams banged out six hits.
The loss put Dillon at 1-10 for the season, 0-5 in Southwestern A play. The Maroons improved to 3-7 and 2-4. Butte Central will be home against Corvallis on Thursday, then will play host to the annual LaVerne Combo Invitational softball tournament Friday and Saturday.
Dillon 000 003 1 — 4 6 3
Butte Central 013 014 x — 9 6 2
Kylee Pittman and Abby Brevig. Makala Doherty, Maci Reopelle (4), M. Doherty (7) and Emma Keeley. W — M. Doherty. L — Pittman.
DILLON (1-10, 0-5) — Shylee Ledbetter 3-3, Madi Ruegsegger 1-3, Jess Zimmerman 0-3, Kylee Pittman 1-3, Makya Dubois 1-3, Abby Brevig 1-3, Alexandria Johnston 0-3, Tawni Schmauch 0-0, Abigail Johnston 0-3, Christina Hernandez 0-3.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-7, 2-4) — Sofee Thatcher 1-4, Zoe Doherty 1-4, Emma Keeley 0-2, Cassidy Strizic 2-4, Madison Kump 1-2, Maci Reopelle 0-3, Makala Doherty 0-1, Lexis Earles 0-0, Brenna Foley 0-2, Gracie Wall 0-1, Maggie Stimatz 0-3.
Extra-base hits — 2B — Dubois, Strizic. HR — Strizic.
Runs batted in — Dillon 2 (Zimmerman 1, Dubois 1), Butte Central 7 (Z. Doherty 3, Strizic 3, Keeley 1).