Havre Daily News
After picking up its first win of the season last weekend against Columbia Falls, the Havre High Softball team will go looking for win number two on Saturday when the Ponies take on the Whitefish Bulldogs in a doubleheader at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Softball Field.
“Getting that first win of the season should help us,” HHS head coach Bob Evans said. “Now the girls know that they can compete and they know that they can win. It also helps boost their confidence.”
However, getting a victory over a Whitefish team that clobbered the Ponies 16-1 and 15-1 a season ago will be much easier said than done. The Bulldogs return top hitters Alana Morris and Kilani Morris, both of whom crushed Blue Pony pitching last year. Whitefish also returns a top pitcher in Desirea Clark who helped hold Havre to two runs in two games last year.
“They have a good program and I expect that they will have a fairly good team,” Evans said. “But, I think that if we go out and play well there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to compete with them.”
The key for the Ponies as always will be pitching. Havre got two very good outings from pitchers Steph Stremcha and Kelsey Evans last weekend. But if they want to knock off the Bulldogs, those pitchers will need to have a repeat performance as well as some help from their offense and defense.
“Steph has been pitching very well as of late,” Evans said. “She's been throwing the ball very well and hopefully she can continue that because it's best for our team when she is on the mound, because that way Kelsey Evans, who is an outstanding short stop, can play in the field instead of pitching.
“It just makes our defense a heck of a lot better when we have Kelsey playing out in the field and Steph on the mound pitching well,” he added.
Stremcha will get the start in the first game of the doubleheader with Evans pitching the second game. But, in order for those pitchers to be successful the Ponies are going to have to find a way to give them some run support, something that they have had trouble with early on in the season.
“We have been playing good defensively, but we have to find a way to score some runs,” Evans said. “We hit the ball terrible against Columbia Falls and we probably should have won both games instead of just one.”
In order to try and manufacture more run production Evans is going to shift his lineup around a little bit, moving Evans into the cleanup spot and dropping Laura Zentmire into the five spot. The Ponies also have inserted freshman catcher Samantha Mack into the leadoff spot in order to get another good bat in the lineup to go along with Erika Briese, Katie McLeod and McKayla Patterson.
“We are fairly set with our lineup, but we are still moving things around a little bit to try and score a few more runs,” Evans said. “We also need to start bunting better. We have not executed our bunts very well so far this season and we need to do that so we can get some people on base. If you are going to play small ball you have to be able to bunt and you have to get base runners.”
The Ponies are still a work in progress, but things are definitely looking up considering they are already in the win column and the difficult part of their conference schedule is behind them.
“Playing those good teams like Polson and Libby early on showed the girls where they were at and how much they needed to improve,” Evans said. “Now, we are in the part of our schedule where we can compete with pretty much every team we play. If we play really well as a team, if we pitch well, play good defense and hit a little bit, I think we can win a couple of games this weekend.”
The Ponies doubleheader with Whitefish will get under way at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The second game is scheduled to start at around 3 p.m.