Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Havre High fast-pitch team got a firsthand example of where it hopes to get as a program. The Ponies got the not-so-fun luxury of facing the defending state champion Polson Pirates on Friday afternoon in Polson and it was educational, to say the least.
Polson pitchers limited the Ponies to one hit in each game, while banging out 30 hits in two games to cruise to wins of 11-0 and 13-0.
"Polson is just a machine," coach Bob Evans said. "They've won three out of the last four state titles for a reason. They showed us where we want to be and how much we need to do to catch up to that level."
In the opening game, talented pitcher Dylan Zetterberg was solid, allowing one hit - a single to Kelsey Evans - and striking out eight batters in a quick win.
Polson scored runs in every inning off of Havre starter Kristin Evanson and pushed across five in the bottom of the fifth to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule. The Ponies also hurt themselves with five errors in the field.
"Polson brings a whole different level of intensity to the field," Evans said. "You can see it when they are warming up before the game. They get after it."
The Pirates really got after it in the second game, ripping 14 hits and scoring 14 runs to end the game again in five innings. Polson scored nine runs in the first inning off of Evans to take an insurmountable lead.
Jaelin Vandeberg and Tami Bonkowski each smacked three-run doubles in the first inning to get things rolling.
Down nine runs early, any Havre comeback efforts were stymied by the pitching of Nicole Brasher, who allowed a hit to Laura Zentmire in five innings of work and had five strikeouts.
"We did a better job of putting the ball in play," Evans said. "But they're just so fundamentally sound in the field. They don't make mistakes."
Havre had little time to worry about the losses. The Ponies traveled to Frenchtown on Saturday for the always-tough Frenchtown Invitational. The tournament traditionally features the best teams in Class A and B.
The Ponies found out about the tough competition early, losing to Hamilton 15-0 Saturday morning. The Broncs ripped out 15 hits and capitalized on four Havre errors to pick up the win.
Ashlee Eckhardt's grand slam home run got Hamilton going in the first inning and the Broncs never looked back.
Havre managed hits from Kyla Kelsey and Whitney Barnekoff, and had runners in scoring position, but could never get the big hit to get on the scoreboard.
Barnekoff took the loss on the mound for Havre, while Jessica Huseby picked up the win for the Broncs.
In the second game of the tourney, the Ponies appeared to be in position to pick up their first road win and important conference game, but the Ronan Maidens broke open a 4-4 game in the fourth inning on Kayla Couture's RBI single. Ronan tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning for a 7-4 win.
"We had our chances in that game," Evans said. "We were in it until the end. But we had to overcome so many baserunners. We had 20 baserunners and only gave up seven runs."
Havre jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Kyla Kelsey singled and worked around to score on Whitney Barnekoff's ground ball to second. Ronan answered with two runs in the first and two more in the second to go up 4-1. Havre tied the game in the third inning as Barnekoff and Laura Zentmire ripped RBI doubles, while Sjanettee D'Hooge added a run-scoring double.
"Our bats are starting to come around a little," Evans said. "Whitney, Laura and Sjanettee are really starting to get confident at the plate. We just need to get stronger physically. The other teams seem much stronger and hit much harder than we do."
Evanson took the tough loss, while Couture got the win. Kelsey and Barnekoff had two hits each to pace the Ponies, while Zentmire, D'Hooge, Evans and Erika Briese all added hits.
"We were a little understaffed this weekend with music festival," Evans said. "But I thought our young kids like Kaylee Benner, Tana Tchida and Erika Briese really played well. We're still improving."
Havre will be on the road this weekend with games in Browning on Friday and Conrad on Saturday.
Polson 11, Havre 0
Havre Blue Ponies 000 00 - 0 1 5
Polson Pirates 121 25 - 11 16 0
Kristin Evanson and McKayla Patterson; Dylen Zetterberg and Jenni Nesladek.
WP - Zetterberg; LP - Nesladek.
HAVRE HITTING - Kelsey Evans 1-2, McKayla Patterson 0-2, Kendra Mader 0-2, Laura Zentmire 0-2, Sjanettee D'Hooge 0-2, Kristin Evanson 0-2, Casey Benner 0-2, Kaylee Benner 0-1, Tana Tchida 0-1.
POLSON HITTING - Strohm Fouty 3-5, Jenni Nesladek 2-3, Tami Bonkowski 2-3, Keely Torgison 0-2, Aubrey Prescott 1-3, Dylen Zetterberg 2-3, Jaelin Vandeberg 3-3, Janelle Lundeen 3-3, Kyla McDonald 2-3.
2B - Fouty, Vandeberg
3B - none
HR - none
Polson 13, Havre 0
Havre Blue Ponies 000 00 - 0 1 1
Polson Pirates 911 2X - 14 14 0
Kelsey Evans and McKayla Patterson; Nicole Brasher and Nesladek.
WP - Brasher; LP - Evans.
HAVRE HITTING - Kelsey Evans 0-2, McKayla Patterson 0-2, Kendra Mader 0-2, Luara Zentmire 1-2, Sjanettee D'Hooge 0-2, Casey Benner 0-2, Erika Briese 0-2, Kaylee Benner 0-1, Tana Tchida 0-1.
POLSON HITTING - Strohm Fouty 2-2, Jenni Nesladek 1-2, Tami Bonkowski 3-3, Keely Torgison 0-1,Nicole Brasher 1-3, Jaelin Vandeberg 2-3 , Lindsey Rafter 1-3, Andrea Mazurek 1-3, Kendra Woldstad 0-3.
2B - Bonkowski 2, Vandeberg
3B - none
HR - none
Hamilton 15, Havre 0
Hamilton Broncs 516 30 - 15 15 3
Havre Blue Ponies 000 00 - 0 2 4
Jessica Huseby and Kelly Berk; Whitney Barnekoff and Kyla Kelsey.
WP - Huseby; LP - Barnekoff.
HAMILTON HITTING - Jessica Huseby 2-3, Claire Schultz 2-5, Tara Anderson 1-1, Ashlee Eckhardt 3-3, Sarah Callaghan 1-1, Kelly Berk 2-2, Rachel Wilson 0-4.
HAVRE HITTING - Kelsey Evans 0-1, Kyla Kelsey 1-2, Whitney Barnekoff 1-2, Laura Zentmire 0-2, Sjanettee D'Hooge 0-2, McKayla Patterson 0-1, Kendra Mader 0-1, Kaylee Benner 0-2, Casey Benner 0-1, Erika Briese 0-1.
2B - Huseby
3B - none
HR - Eckhardt
Ronan 7, Havre 4
Havre Blue Ponies 103 000 0 - 4 8 1
Ronan Maidens 220 102 X - 7 14 1
Kristin Evanson and Kyla Kelsey; Kayla Couture and Bridget Taylor.
WP - Couture; LP - Evanson.
HAVRE HITTING - Kelsey Evans 1-4, Kyla Kelsey 2-4, Whitney Barnekoff 2-3 (RBI) , Laura Zentmire 1-2 (2 RBI), Sjanettee D'Hooge 1-3, McKayla Patterson 0-3, Kendra Mader 0-3, Kaylee Benner 0-3, Erika Briese 1-3.
RONAN HITTING - Lauryn Lynch 1-2, Kayla Couture 3-4, Bridget Taylor 1-3, R. Sorrell, Brittney Bilile 2-3, Charlee Cordier 3-3, Kaila Orr 2-3, Nikki Starkel 0-4, Kelly Cordier 2-3
2B - Lynch, Couture, D'Hooge
3B - none
HR - none