Havre Daily News Sports Editor
If it's the last game of the season, you might as well make it your best.
The Havre High fast pitch team put on its most dominant showing of the season on Saturday afternoon the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field, crushing Browning 23-2.
Havre scored 15 runs in the second inning and batted through the lineup twice in the inning to break open a 4-0 game and put things away early.
"We really came out and hit the ball right away," said head coach Bob Evans. "Browning was a little shorthanded and missing their pitcher and we took advantage of it."
Indeed, Havre rocked Browning starter Jessie Scott from the opening pitch.
Kelsey Evans opened the game with an inside-the-park home run for the Ponies and it snowballed from there. The Ponies tacked on three more runs in the inning as Kaci Owens ripped a two-run single and Laura Zentmire scored on a Browning error.
But the second inning is where things really got out of hand. It seemed like Havre got RBI singles from every person on the team. Senior Whitney Barnekoff ripped three hits in the inning on her way to five hits in the game.
"Whitney had a great game at the plate," Evans said. "She hit the ball hard."
Kyla Kelsey had two hits and three RBIs in the rally, while Evans, McKayla Patterson, Casey Benner and Laura Zentmire each had two RBIs and two hits in the inning.
Havre built an 18-0 lead before Browning finally went to Michelle Higgins in relief. But even she couldn't cool the scorching Pony bats. Havre scored four more runs in the fourth inning as Barnekoff and Kendra Mader had RBI singles and Patterson added a two-run single.
"I was really pleased with how the girls came out ready to play," Evans said. "We were much more focused than we were against CMR."
Barnekoff led the offensive attack with a 5-5 performance and two RBIs. Patterson had three hits and four RBIs, while Evans was 3-5 with three RBIs. Kelsey was 2-4 with three RBIS and Benner added two hits and two RBIs.
But for all the offensive fireworks, Havre would have been fine with just a handful of runs, thanks to solid defense and the pitching of senior Kristin Evanson.
Evanson limited Browning to just two runs on four hits and walked just two batters in one of her best performances of the season.
"Kristin pitched a nice ball game," Evans said. "She went out and threw strikes and got ahead of batters."
Havre's defense was also solid, allowing just two passed balls and no fielding mistakes.
In the junior varsity game, Havre rode the pitching of freshman Steph Stremcha to a 10-2 win.
Stremcha pitched all seven innings, allowing just one hit - a single to Bobbie Woodworth - and two runs in the game. She also struck out seven batters and walked just three.
"I really was pleased with Steph Stremcha and how she pitched in the JV game," Evans said. "I've been waiting for Steph to give us that type of performance. It's really exciting to see."
Havre jumped out to a 6-0 lead, thanks to a five-run second inning. Stacey Sheppard and Megan Hannon had RBI singles to spark the rally. The Ponies added two more runs in the fifth, as Sheppard and Hannon once again had run-scoring singles. Casey Benner's RBI single in the sixth added more insurance for Havre.
"Our JV kids played a nice game," Evans said. "They hit the ball and played good defense."
Sheppard and Hannon led Havre with two hits and two RBIs each. Stremcha helped herself out with a pair of hits.
The HHS varsity wrapped up its inaugural season with a 5-15 record and Evans sees nothing but improvement in the future.
"If you saw us in that first week of practice and watched us in the last week, you would think it was night and day," he said. "It doesn't even look like the same team."
Havre will lose Evanson, Barnekoff and Mader to graduation, but Evans knows their influence helped build the program's foundation.
"They were good leaders for our younger girls," Evans said. "They rarely missed practice. I don't think Kristin missed a single practice all season and Whitney only missed one. They came and worked hard every day."
As for the offseason, Evans will focus on developing the pitching of Evans, Stremcha and Sheppard.
"We have to have them work in their pitching in the off-season and get a little stronger," Evans said. "They are the key for us to be successful next season."
If that happens, Evans thinks Havre will improve greatly.
"I'm really excited about next season," Evans said. "If we get a little pitching, we are going to be pretty good."
Havre 23, Browning 2
Browning Indians 0 0 110 - 2 4 3
Havre Blue Ponies 4 15 04X- 23 18 0
Jessie Scott (2), Michelle Higgins (3) and Michelle Higgins, LaToya St. John; Kristin Evanson and Kyla Kelsey.
WP - Evanson; LP - Scott.
INDIANS HITTING - Bobbie Woodworth 0-3; Jessie Scott 1-3; Arbana Higgins 0-3; Michelle Higgins 0-3; Tara Horn 2-3; Tessa Racine 1-2; LaToya St. John 0-2; Michelle Little Young Man 0-2; Corrina Garvis 0-2.
BLUE PONIES HITTING - Kelsey Evans 3-5 (3 RBI); Whitney Barnekoff 5-5 (2 RBI); Kendra Mader 1-5 (2 RBI); Laura Zentmire 1-5 (2 RBI); McKayla Patterson 3-5 (4 RBI); Kyla Kelsey 2-5; Sjanettee D'Hooge 0-4; Kaci Owens 1-3; Casey Benner 2-4 (2 RBI).
2B - Woodworth, Zentmire
3B - none
HR - Evans
Havre JV 10, Browning 2
Browning Indians 000 020 0 - 2 1 4
Havre Blue Ponies JV 151 021 X - 10 9 1
Michelle Higgins and Latoya St. John; Steph Stremcha and Jessica Obrecht.
WP - Stremcha; LP - M. Higgins.
INDIANS HITTING - Jessie Scott 0-3; Bobbie Woodworth 1-3; Arbana Higgins 0-3; Michelle Higgins 0-3; Tara Horn 0-3; Corrina Garvis 0-3; Latoya St. John 0-3; Katie Lahr 1-3; Michelle Little Young Man 0-3.
BLUE PONIES HITTING - Katie McLeod 0-3; Stacey Sheppard 2-4 (2 RBI); Jessica Obrecht 1-3 (RBI); Tereyl Shrauger. 0-1; Ashley Small 0-1; Steph Stremcha 2-3; Kaylee Benner 1-2; Danika Patterson 1-2; Megan Hannon 2-2 (2 RBI); Kaci Owens 1-1.
2B - none
3B - none
HR - none