By Bruce Sayler
Glacier High School of Kalispell broke out its softball bats in Butte Saturday, and swung noisy ones.
The Wolfpack banged out 15 hits in a 12-5 Western AA Conference girls’ softball victory over Butte High at blustery Stodden Park.
It was a fast start, too. Glacier spanked nine hits over the first two innings while building a 7-0 lead. Not all were solid shots, some were slow rollers, but all seemed to do damage to Butte High’s hopes of winning.
Leadoff hitter Brooklyn Imperato, a junior catcher, led the attack three hits in five at-bats, knocking in three runs and driving in three over the course of the game. Senior shortstop Sammie Labrum also collected three hits, and Kenadie Goudette, Paishance Haller and winning pitcher Allie Kernan knocked a pair of hits each.
Imperato and Goudette both homered, both blasts coming in the Wolfpack’s four-run second inning.
“I told the girls this, too,” Butte High head coach Ryan Stosich. “I’ll take the hit for this one. I don’t think I had them ready to go in the first inning.”
The Bulldogs failed to successfully handle two groundballs to the infield that could’ve been outs while Glacier was grabbing a 3-0 lead instead with the gift baserunners. Instincts hadn’t yet kicked in for the home team and hesitation on the plays benefitted the Wolfpack.
Then, in the bottom of the first, Kernan set the Bulldogs down in order, bringing the Wolfpack right back to the plate where Glacier carried the momentum into scoring four more runs.
“They out-hit us,” Stosich said. “This is the Glacier team I thought they’d be all season. They had struggled a little bit earlier in the year. They beat (Missoula) Sentinel (Friday).”
Sentinel had clinched the No. 2 seed from the West AA to next week’s state AA tournament.
Butte High needs a win Monday against Kalispell Flathead to secure the fourth Western seed while Glacier will likely be fifth.
“I thought our defense was good after the first inning,” Stosich said. “And, after the second inning, I thought Ashlinn (Mullaney) pitched well.
“We maybe should’ve hit a little better, but five runs and seven hits is about what you’d expect (for winning a game).”
The Bulldogs celebrated Senior Day prior to the game, honoring the team’s four seniors – right fielder Shanti Berkopec, catcher Jordyn Bolton, left fielder Joscelyn Cleveland and shortstop Kodie Hoagland. All, except Bolton, were in the starting lineup. A recent shoulder injury has ended Bolton’s career, coaches said. Butte High’s players also handed out bouquets to Glacier seniors Labrum, Kernan and Teagan Powell.
Imperato started the game with a single up the middle. After an out, Emma Cooke and Goudette punched the squibber and bouncer that infielders failed to react to on time to make a play. Imperato scored on Haller’s groundout and Ella Farrell stroked a two-run single up the middle.
In the second inning, Kernan punched a one-out single to center field and Imperato lofted a flyball home run over the center-field fence. Labrum then whacked a double and, after a groundout, Goudette hammered a home run over the center-field fence.
The Wolfpack had control, 7-0.
Butte High broke onto the scoreboard with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Kamber Leary and Gracie Ferriter worked walks out of Kernan. One out later, Cleveland crashed a double to center field, driving in both runners. Maddi Jonart singled to left field to put runners on the corners, but they were left there on two straight groundouts.
The Bulldogs prowled and growled even closer with three runs in the fifth inning to pull to within 7-5. Dacelyn Lafond and Hoagland walked to start the uprising, then Mullaney doubled to scored Lafond. Farrell, an All-State pitcher a year ago, relieved Kernan after playing at third base and Rian Ferriter greeted her with a two-run single to center field. Farrell, however, recovered to induce a forceout and post a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning.
Glacier applied the clincher in the top of the seventh with a five-run eruption. Farrell and Zoey Allen drew walks to start the frame. After a popup, Kernan, Imperato and Labrum lashed run-scoring singles. Imperato scored on a groundout and Labrum raced home on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs’ attempt to rally back in the last of the last inning saw Rian Ferriter and Leary chain one-out singles only for the comeback attempt to die on consecutive strikeouts. Farrell fanned six of the 13 batters she faced.
Mullaney pitched the full game for the Bulldogs, recording five strikeouts and four walks along the way.
Butte High’s game with Flathead is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Monday at Stodden Park. It was originally slated for Friday but postponed because of bad weather. It is the last game of the regular season. The Bulldogs are 8-11 for the season, 6-7 in the Western AA.
Glacier finished the regular season at 11-9 overall, 6-8 in conference.
Glacier 340 000 5 — 12 15 1
Butte High 020 030 0 — 5 7 2
Alli Kernan, Ella Farrell and Brooklyn Imperato. Ashlinn Mullaney and Gracie Ferriter. W — Kernan L — Mullaney.
KALISPELL GLACIER (11-9, 6-8) — Brooklyn Imperato 3-5, Sammie Labrum 3-5, Emma Cooke 1-5, Kenadie Goudette 2-5, Paishance Haller 2-5, Ella Farrell 1-3, Mady Osler 0-0, Cazz Rankosky 0-0, Zoey Allen 0-3, Teagan Powell 1-3, Nakiah Persinger 0-0, Alli Kernan 2-3.
BUTTE HIGH (8-11, 6-7) — Kodie Hoagland 0-3, Ashlinn Mullaney 1-4, Rian Ferriter 2-3, Cami Kautzman 0-0, Kamber Leary 1-3, Gracie Ferriter 0-2, Madisyn Swanson 0-1, Bryn Godbout 0-4, Joscelyn Cleveland 1-3, Shanti Berkopec 0-0, Maddi Jonart 1-3, Brityn Stewart 0-1, Dacelyn Lafond 1-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Labrum, Cleveland, Mullaney. Home runs – Imperato, Goudette.
Runs batted in – Glacier 11 (Imperato 3, Goudette 2, Farrell 2, Labrum 1, Cooke 1, Haller 1, Kernan 1), Butte High 5 (R. Ferriter 2, Cleveland 2, Mullaney 1).