Havre Daily News Sports Editor
For the most serious of seamheads, the most boisterous of baseball fanatics, Havre's Legion Field will offer a plethora of line drives and line scores, ground balls and gap shots, sinking fastballs and soaring pop flies, curveballs and competition when the annual Havre Baseball Jamboree opens today at 3:45 p.m. with the Glasgow Reds taking on the Bitterroot Bucs.
Over the next four days, baseball will run nonstop at Legion Field with 18 games, featuring some of the best teams that Class A has to offer.
"This is different than other tournaments in the summer because it's not really a tournament," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "It's a chance for teams from around the state to come here and play some games against competition they wouldn't normally face."
Not just any teams, but state tournament level teams. A year ago, the Northstars, the Bitterroot Red Sox, the Gallatin Valley Outlaws and Glasgow Reds all played at the Jamboree and went on to the Class A state tournament.
All four teams all return along with three other returnees in the Havre Comets, the Bitterroot Bucs and Great Falls Black Sox. Joining the field this year is Northern District contender and state tournament qualifier Vauxhall. Topping off the field is the defending Class A state champion Glendive Blue Devils, who won the title here last August.
"We really have some of the best teams in the state," Williams said. "That's part of what makes this tournament so successful. Teams want to play good competition and that's something we offer."
The Northstars come into the tournament reeling a little, following a disappointing split against the Great Falls Stallions A squad. Havre managed just four hits in each game.
"We need to raise our level play for this weekend," Williams said. "We've had problems coming out ready to play. That can't happen this weekend."
Havre will open tonight at 8:15 against the Bitterroot Bucs.
A year ago, the Northstars needed late-inning heroics from Trent Normandy and Bret Magelssen to get a 9-8 extra-inning win over the Bucs.
Bitterroot barely missed out on qualifying for last year's state tournament, falling at its district tournament - one win away from making it.
The Bucs return several key players off last year's squad led by Phil Perez, Cam Edman and J.C. Shepherd.
"Bitterroot always puts a good team on the field," Williams said. "We will be in for a tough game."
The Comets will open tonight against Glasgow at 6 p.m. Like their older counterparts, the Comets are coming off a split with the Stallions on Tuesday. However, the circumstances were slightly different.
The Comets scored 44 runs in two games against the Stallions, showing their best offensive output of the season.
"I think the games against the Stallions really gives our kids a lot of confidence coming into the jamboree," said Comets head coach Andy Smith. "We know we have some tough games, but I think the kids are excited to play."
As for the remainder of the competition, Glendive will be looking to repeat as state champs. The Blue Devils lost some quality players from last season, but should be solid with Joe Bakken and Jason Erickson returning.
The Bitterroot Red Sox come in with a 15-9 record overall, including a pair of wins over Gallatin Valley. The Red Sox are led by pitcher Brett Henry, who is 5-2 on the season, while hitters Jordan Mousley, Lucky Barrett and Patrick McKay have plenty of experience.
Gallatin Valley returns several experienced players led by third baseman Justin Chaffins, who is a solid hitter, along with pitcher/first baseman Toby Marx.
Great Falls comes in as one of the hottest teams in Montana baseball. The Black Sox play in a different division than American Legion, but they have had plenty of success against Legion squads as evidenced by their perfect 18-0 record.
The Black Sox are led by shortstop Brian Bollwitt, who recently signed with NAIA power Lewis-Clark State. They also have solid players in Nick Reichelt, Lane Lattin and Tyler Whitaker.
Havre Baseball Jamboree
3:45 p.m. - Bitterroot Bucs vs. Glasgow Reds
6 p.m. - Glasgow Reds vs. Havre Comets
8:15 p.m. - Bitterroot Bucs vs. Havre Northstars
9 a.m. - Bitterroot Bucs vs. Havre Comets
11:15 a.m. - G. F. Black Sox vs. Glasgow Reds
1:30 p.m. - G. F. Black Sox vs. Bitterroot Bucs
3:45 p.m. - Vauxhall Spurs vs. Glasgow Reds
6 p.m. - Vauxhall Spurs vs. Bitterroot Red Sox
8:15 p.m. - Bitterroot Red Sox vs. Havre Northstars
9 a.m. - G. F. Black Sox vs. Vauxhall Spurs
11:15 a.m. - Bitterroot Red Sox vs. G. F. Black Sox
1:30 p.m. - Gallatin Valley Outlaws vs. Vauxhall Spurs
3:45 p.m. - Bitterroot Red Sox vs. Glendive Blue Devils
6 p.m. - Gallatin Valley Outlaws vs. Havre Northstars
8:15 p.m. - Glendive Blue Devils vs. Havre Comets
9 a.m. - Gallatin Valley Outlaws vs. Havre Comets
11:15 a.m. - Glendive Blue Devils vs. Gallatin Valley Outlaws
1:30 p.m. - Glendive Blue Devils vs. Havre Northstars