Sun sets on BC divisional run

ANACONDA — In the end, Butte Central didn’t gain on their No. 2 seed at the Southwestern A Divisional tournament.

After knocking off Hamilton in the undefeated semifinal game, the Maroons saw the Broncs battle back with two wins over BC to win the tournament title at the Charlotte Yeoman-Martin Complex Saturday.

Hamilton won 10-2 to force an extra game. The Broncs won that game 7-5. That game was called after five innings because of looming darkness.

The games came after Hamilton outlasted Anaconda 5-4 in 10 innings in the third-place game. That game featured two delays — one for rain and another for lightning.

So, the Maroons will head to next week’s Class A State tournament in Polson as the No. 2 seed. Hamilton will be No. 1, while Anaconda is the No. 3 seed.

Those are the same seeds had there not been a divisional tournament — like it was in the past.

Still, BC coach Kelci Thatcher says the tournament was a good thing for the Maroons.

“Overall, I know we got better. It’s a win-win,” Thatcher said. ” We made state, they competed, we beat them (Hamilton) again, which is huge. That’s the positives we’ll take out of it.”

The Maroons will likely play at state without ace pitcher Teresa Piazzola, who is battling a hip injury. That will leave senior Mikayla Boggs and sophomore McKenzie Gallagher as the arms in play for BC’s run.

“I think she’s done,” Thatcher said of Piazzola. “We’ll go with what we have and compete.”

Hamilton 10, Butte Central 2
The game started so right for the Maroons.

Mollie Peoples drilled a two-run double with one out in the top of the first inning, and it appeared the Maroons would get to Hamilton ace Brie Clifford, who was throwing her third game of the day.

The inning ended, though, with Corbyn Holm and Boggs hitting solid fly outs to left field. Then the roof caved in on the Maroons.

The first five Hamilton batters scored, and the game quickly got out of hand. The Broncs led 9-2 after three innings.

Gallagher relieved Boggs and slowed the bleeding, but Clifford got better as the game went on. She struck out 12 batters in the final six innings. That included striking out the side in order twice.

Leadoff hitter McKayle Rothie had a three-hit game for the Broncs. Clifford, Lauren Dolcater, Lacey Dolcater and Kloie Nye each had two hits.

All of the 13 Hamilton hits were singles.

Peoples went 2 for 3 to lead the Maroons. Shawnee Hjelt hit a double.

Butte Central             200  000  0 —  2    3   2
Hamilton                    522  010  x — 10  13  0

Mikayla Boggs, McKenzie Gallagher (2) and Corbyn Holm; Brie Clifford and Katie Wickham. W — Clifford. L — Boggs (6-4).
BUTTE CENTRAL (16-7) — Shawnee Hjelt 1-3, Shelby Paffhausen 0-2, Taylor Wahl 0-1, Mollie Peoples 2-3, Holm 0-3, Boggs 0-3, Rylee Green 0-3, Cassidy McGree 0-3, Kate Ossello 0-1, Gallagher 0-2.
HAMILTON — McKayl Rothie 3-4, Clifford 2-4, Taylor Goligoski 1-4, Tayler Reynolds 1-2, Lauren Dolcater 2-4, Sydney Bergren 0-4, Lacey Dolcater 2-3, Wickham 0-2, Kloie Nye 2-3.
2B — Hjelt; Peoples.
RBIs — Peoples 2; Rothie 2, Lauren Dolcater 2, Clifford, Reynolds, Bergen, Lacye Dolcater.

Hamilton 7, Butte Central 5 (5 innings)
Butte Central was much improved after a game that Thatcher said her players were complacent and not quite themselves.

Still, BC dug itself too big of a hole.

Hamilton was first up, and the Broncs scored four runs on five well-placed singles.

By design, Boggs entered the game in the second inning and pitched well. The Maroons couldn’t quite catch up.

Hjelt singled and scored on a Holm single in the first. Cassidy McGree hit a two-run double in the third.

The Maroons put two more on the board in the fourth to cut the lead to 7-5. Hjelt hit an RBI groundout before Peoples hit a clutch two-out single to score Emily St. John.

The inning ended on the scoring play though, as Kate Ossello was gunned down on a very close play at the plate by center fielder Tayler Reynolds.

The Maroons got the tying run on in the fifth inning when McGree singled and Taylor Wahl drew a 12-pitch walk. Clifford, though, made a nice play and narrowly threw out St. John at first to end the inning.

The Maroons took the field ready for another inning. After a short meeting, though, the umpires called the game because of darkness. The complex has no lights.

Clifford, Reynolds and Sydney Bergren each had a two-hit game for the Broncs. Hjelt joined McGree with a two hit game for the Maroons. Ossello joined Peoples and Holm with a single.

McGree, who ran track last year and was little-used in the beginning of the year, was moved up to No. 5 in the lineup for the Maroons in the last game.

Thatcher said that could be a permanent move.

“She’s a stud,” Thatcher said of the senior left fielder. “She’s just been our spark. She’s just a lead on and off the field.”

Hamilton                    402  10 — 7  10  1
Butte Central             102  20 — 5    7  1

Clifford and Wickham; Gallagher, Boggs (2) and Ossello. W — Clifford. L — Gallagher (1-1).
HAMILTON — Rothie 0-2, Clifford 2-4, Goligoski 1-3, Reynolds 2-3, Lauren Dolcater 1-3, Bergren 2-3, Lacey Dolcater 1-2, Wickham 0-3, Nye 1-2.
BUTTE CENTRAL (16-8) — Hjelt 2-3, Paffhausen 0-2, Peoples 1-2, Holm 1-3, McGree 2-3, Boggs 0-3, Wahl 0-1, Emilie St. John 0-3, Ossello 0-1.
2B — Lauren Dolcater, Bergren; McGree, Hjelt.
RBIS — Bergren 2, Clifford, Reynolds, Lauren Dolcater, Lacey Dolcater; McGree 2, Peoples, Holm, Hjelt.

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