By George Ferguson
The Havre Northstar baseball team will begin its quest for another state championship in Bozeman Saturday morning, and head coach Mickey Williams feels very good about his team's chances.
"I think we can be very competitive in this tournament, along with a few other teams. I like our chances," Williams said.
The tournament gets under way today at 9 a.m. at Legion Field in Bozeman but the Northstars do not play until 9 a.m. Saturday due to a first-round bye.
As for Havre's opponent, that has yet to be determined. The Northstars will play the winner of the first-round matchup between the Bozeman Spikes and Livingston, who will face off today at 4:30 p.m.
Eleven teams make their way to Bozeman for a chance to compete for the top prize in Class A American Legion baseball. Representing the Central Conference will be Gallatin Valley, Belgrade and host Bozeman. The Eastern Conference sends the Glasgow Reds and Glendive Blue Devils. The North Conference is represented by the Northstars as well as the Lethbridge Minors, while the South Conference is sending the Billings Royals and Livingston. The West Conference has both the Bitterroot Red Sox and the Bitterroot Bucs.
The tournament format is a double-elimination tournament, and the winner will receive an automatic berth at the Northwest Regional Tournament in Legrande, Ore., later in August.
As for the favorites, Williams said the defending champion Bitterroot Red Sox and Gallatin Valley Outlaws have to be considered the top two teams to beat but that his Northstars are right there with them.
"Bitteroot and Gallatin are both very good teams, but I would consider us and Lethbridge to be contenders right there with them," he said.
Bitterroot and Gallatin both received byes and will face off against each other at 8:30 p.m. today. Havre has played both teams, losing to Bitterroot 7-6 and splitting a pair of meetings with Gallatin Valley.
The Northstars are taking a stellar 52-9 overall season record into the tournament, which will be their fifth straight appearance in the state tournament including a state championship in 1999.
Tournament action will continue through Wednesday, with the championship game scheduled for 11:30 a.m.