By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
The last time the Havre Fast Pitch Softball Club played in a tournament things didn't go quite as planned. This time around, head coach Kim Staudinger hopes for a little different result as Havre opens play this afternoon in the Glasgow Invitational.
Three weeks ago, Staudinger and her squad went into the Belgrade Invitational with high hopes only to come away with four losses and a harsh reality check about fast pitch in Montana. Always the optimist, Staudinger has high hopes again, but with plenty of reason.
"This weekend should be a little different than Belgrade," she said. "The teams at this tournament play at our competition level. That doesn't mean still don't have to play well to win. But if we do, we should be one of the better teams there."
Indeed, the tournament is filled with first- and second-year programs much like Havre's. All four of Havre's opponents - Glasgow, Sidney, Poplar and Colstrip - are in either their first or second year of existence.
Havre lost to Sidney at the Belgrade tournament, 8-3, and defeated Glasgow, 9-7, on April 27 in the last game it played.
"We definitely feel like Sidney was a game we should have won," Staudinger said. "And we know we're capable of beating Glasgow. Colstrip is a first-year team and I don't know much about Poplar."
While it does seem like Havre should do well, there are a few problems heading into Glasgow.
First and foremost will be the absence of starting pitcher Kristin Evanson, who will not play the whole weekend. Evanson hurt her back in Havre's last game and is out indefinitely.
With Evanson missing, Staudinger will split the pitching duties between Whitney Barnekoff and Sjanetee D'Hooge.
"It obviously hurts us not having her pitch, but it also forces us to do some different things with our lineup," Staudinger said. "Sjanetee has been our rock in centerfield and we're going to have to fill in there when she pitches."
Staudinger will choose from Katie McLeod, Whitney Schwan, Kaci Owens or Kim Collins to fill the open spot.
Havre will also be without the services of second leading hitter Brittany Callahan, who is participating in Havre High's spring musical. Callahan is second on the team in hitting behind first baseman Laura Zentmire.
Even with Callahan in the lineup, Havre wasn't a particularly strong hitting team. Without her and Evanson, scoring runs may be a little more difficult.
Casey Benner will step in and fill Callahan's spot and Staudinger is looking for her younger players to step up with the increased playing time.
"We're going to be even more inexperienced than normal, if that's possible," Staudinger joked. "We could have two freshmen and a sophomore in the outfield."
With the relative inexperience and the lack offense, Havre's defense will be called on to be even better than it has been in the past.