Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It's almost like annual rite of spring or the local baseball season. For a four week stretch, the Havre Northstars and Havre Comets square off every Wednesday to take care of their conference game requirements.
The four-week series will begin tonight when the two Havre squads will meet at 7 p.m. at Legion Field in a nine inning game.
For the Northstars, the last time they walked off Legion Field it was after a doubleheader sweep by the Class AA Great Falls Stallions. Regardless of the higher level of competition, the Northstars don't get swept often at home.
To put it simply, the Northstars didn't play well. They committed a passel of mental mistakes and just didn't play very clean baseball.
"We just made a bunch of mistakes that we haven't made up to this point in the season," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "I don't know if we weren't focused, or what. But we need to play much better."
Williams will start either Austin Small or Ben Erickson on the mound. Both will pitch some in the game. The Northstars will also be sporting its full roster after missing players the past week for various commitments.
While the Northstars come into the game having already played five games, the Comets have only played one this season, a 10-4 win over the Great Falls Stallions A team.
Basically, tonight is the real opener for youthful Comet squad with 14 new faces on the team. Unlike years past, no single member of last year's Comet team will be back, leaving this year's squad with all new faces under second-year head coach Andy Smith.
"It's been pretty exciting," Smith said. "You can tell these kids really like baseball. They've been working hard in practice and really bring a good attitude every day."
What has impressed Smith early is his players ability to adapt to the higher level of competition of Legion baseball.
"They should be fine," he said. "They beat the Comets last year as an all-star team. I think they have an idea about playing at this level."
While the Comets experience at this level is roughly about two games, there is still enough talent to make them competitive early.
The Comets have a wealth of pitchers and infielders, perhaps their only weakness is an overall lack of depth in the outfield.
Smith can look to Tanner Donoven, Anthony Wirtzberger, Tanner Abdallah, Michael Erickson, Logan Reichelt and Jeremiah Moog for innings on the mound. He has two solid catchers in Ryan Callahan and Bryan Heath.
In the infield, Erickson and Donoven will split time at first base, while Scott Vigliotti will see plenty of time at second base. At shortstop, Wirtzberger and Reichelt will both see time, while Heath and Seth Jensen can play third base.
The outfield isn't quite two-deep at every position. Moog will play centerfield, while Marshall Cartwright, Spencer Ivars and Abdallah can play the corner outfield positions.
Smith has worked with his excess of infielders on learning some outfield. They've progressed enough to for him to feel comfortable out there in situations.
Perhaps Smith's biggest addition is the return of Bob Evans Sr. to the coaching staff. Evans was a long-time Comet coach and has returned to assist Smith this season.
"Having Bob helping is very valuable," Smith said. "It's a great asset for the team. He has so much baseball experience and it really has been helpful.