Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
All things considered, it was a good weekend for the Havre High softball team. But ultimately the Ponies will be left a little less un-satisfied after barely missing out a golden opportunity to sweep a two-game set with conference rival Columbia Falls at home. The Ponies and the Wildcats played two exhilarating games over the weekend at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field, with the Wildcats taking the first game on Friday night 8-7, but HHS rebounding to win the second game on Saturday by the score of 10-9 in extra innings. The Ponies also played Conrad in nonconference action in the Havre Invitational tournament, dropping the game 8-6 on Saturday afternoon. “I think that it’s kind of sad because we should have won all three games,” HHS head coach Bob Evans said. “We just made some critical errors that really cost us. We gave teams too many outs and we didn’t make the plays we needed to win games. “I guess we are happy with the split against Columbia Falls,” he added. “But we still lost two of the three games.” Columbia Falls and Havre opened up their critical two-game series on Friday night. The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the Ponies allowed three unearned runs in the top of the first inning. But, the Ponies answered in the bottom of the second inning when Teryl Schrauger singled to score senior Erika Briese. Stacey Sheppard also scored when Columbia Falls made an error on the play, as the Ponies cut the lead to 3-2. HHS starting pitcher Karly Evans held down the Wildcats offense for the next three innings. However, the Wildcats scored four runs over the final three innings to take an 8-4 lead into the bottom of the slast inning. And that’s when the Ponies put together a furious rally, starting when Jessica Obrecht, Sam Mack and Katie McLeod all reached base to open the inning. Steph Stremcha then ripped a two-run single with the bases loaded, trimming the lead to 8-6. Tiffany Ranes knocked in McLeod with a groundout to the pitcher, pulling the Ponies even closer at 8-7. Down to the last out, Briese came up with a runner on second and third. Unfortunately, Briese flied out to shortstop to end the game and give Columbia Falls the win. Drew Walter earned the win, despite surrendering three runs in relief. Karly Evans was hit with the loss after being credited with seven runs in just over five innings of work. Briese and McLeod each had three hits in the loss for the Ponies. “I thought both Karly and Steph both pitched really well,” Bob Evans said. “Our defense just didn’t make enough plays behind them. We hit the ball well, so our hitting wasn’t a problem at all, so we just need to stop making so many errors.” Needing a win to keep their state tournament hopes alive, the Ponies rebounded to defeat Columbia Falls in dramatic fashion Saturday morning. The Ponies jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the third inning. However, Columbia Falls scored nine runs over three innings, including a six-run fifth inning, forcing a 9-9 tie after six innings of play. Stremcha held the Wildcats scoreless in both the seventh and eighth innings, setting the stage for a dramatic ending. Sheppard opened up the bottom of the eighth inning with a double. Then, following a sacrifice and a throwing error, Sheppard came around for the winning run. “The leadoff double that Stacey had was really big,” Bob Evans said. “It was a really big play by her because it gives you so many options especially, with no outs.” In Saturday morning’s game, Stremcha, a senior, notched her fourth win of the season, while Walter was charged with loss. Danika Patterson had three hits and three RBIs to lead the Ponies to the win. Karly Evans also added three hits, while Stremcha pitched in with two hits. The Ponies also fell to Class B power Conrad on Saturday afternoon by the score of 8-6. The game was part of the Hhs Invitational. Karly Evans was hit with her second loss of the weekend after giving up eight runs in the first three innings. Schrauger had two hits in the loss for the Ponies. Havre is now 4-9 overall, but more importantly, the Ponies are 4-6 in conference play after splitting with Columbia Falls. The Ponies now have to sweep a doubleheader against conference foe Eureka, and hope for some help from other teams in order to finish fourth in the Western A Conference. The doubleheader against Eureka will take place on Friday in Butte. The Ponies will also play in the Butte Central Invitational on Saturday.