Havre Daily News
After a rough start to the 2006 season, the Havre High softball team hits the road this weekend for a pair of doubleheaders and a shot at a little redemption.
Last weekend the Ponies opened up their season against Polson, the defending Class A state champions. Havre suffered two tough losses by scores of 21-0 and 14-4.
Now, the Ponies will look to regroup from their rough start this weekend against conference foes Libby and Columbia Falls.
“I expect us to play much better this weekend than we did last weekend,” HHS head coach Bob Evans said. “We just had some jitters last week with it being the first of the season, and I think we are over that now. We have just focused on getting better this week, and I think we had a good week of practice. I think we are going to play pretty well.”
Havre will kick off the road trip on Friday night against Libby in a doubleheader. Libby is probably the second best team in the conference next to Polson. Libby is led by their spectacular young pitching staff of Brooke Hageness and Lacey Dedrick. Last season the two combined for two victories over the Ponies, and in those two games Havre scored just two runs and managed only two hits.
“Libby is one of the better teams in our conference and they have a really good pitching staff,” Evans said. “They have all their pitchers returning from last season, so they are going to very tough again. Especially because in softball a good pitcher usually pitches both games in the doubleheader, it's not like baseball where the pitcher needs four or five days to get rested. So if you can find a good pitcher, your team can go a long ways.”
Meanwhile, the Ponies haven't found a dominating starting pitcher. They are going to have to excel in the batter's box and in the field if they are going to have a chance to knock off Libby. They will also need good outings from their pitchers Kelsey Evans, Stephanie Stremcha and Stacey Sheppard.
The Ponies will also need to find a way to execute the bunt better on offense and defend it better on defense. Last weekend against Polson, the Ponies struggled defending the bunt and the base paths and allowed the Pirates to constantly have runners in scoring position.
“We are going to try and bunt more on offense this week, and we tried it a little bit last week, but we just were not very effective with it,” Evans said. “We want to try and force the defense to have to make some plays.
“We also worked a lot on defending the bunt,” he added. “We were in position against Polson, we just didn't make the play. We just have to make the play when we have a chance, and we also focused a lot on covering the bases, so we don't give up so many easy bases.”
As far as their lineup is concerned, the Ponies will depend heavily on Kelsey Evans, Erika Briese, Katie McLeod and Laura Zentmire among others to get on base and knock in some runs.
“It's going to be tough against a team like Libby,” he said. “I think the big thing for us is just to go out there and be competitive. I want to play 14 innings against them, and hopefully we can pull out a win.”
On Saturday, the Ponies will square off against Columbia Falls in doubleheader action. Columbia Falls is a team that, like Havre, is in the middle of the pack in a very tough conference. Columbia Falls will present the Ponies with a very good chance to earn a pair of coveted road wins.
Last season the two teams met in Havre, and the Ponies were able to get a split out of the doubleheader. This season they hope to get at least that, if not more.
“Last season we were able to split against them at home, and I think if we can get some good pitching, we will have a good chance to get a win,” he said. “It's always nice to get a split on the road, but we would really like to go down there and get a sweep.”
The Ponies will go to Libby on Friday night, and Saturday they will head to Columbia Falls to wrap up their road trip.