Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Havre High softball team suffered an early season setback in its quest for a berth in the Class A state tournament as the Blue Ponies were swept by conference foes Polson and Whitefish in back-to-back two-game sets. Havre played host to Polson, a Class A softball powerhouse, on Friday afternoon at the Sixth Avenue Softball Field in Havre. Despite a strong start in the opening game, the Ponies eventually fell to Polson 8-0, which was followed by a 14-1 Polson victory in the second game to complete the two-game sweep for the Pirates. Dakota Peterson was a dominant force on the mound for the Pirates after throwing a complete-game shutout in the first game. Peterson and HHS starter Steph Stremcha were locked in a pitchers duel for the first four innings, as the game was scoreless entering the fourth inning. However, Polson scored three runs in the fifth inning to give Peterson the run support she needed. Finally with the lead, the Pirates closed out Havre thanks in large part to the seven strong innings from Peterson, in which she allowed just three hits and no runs. Stremcha, who was charged with the loss, gave up eight runs. Charlee Jensen was 4-for-4 from the plate, including a double to lead the way for the Polson offense. Peterson was also strong on offense with three hits and an RBI. Caitlyn Vasser also contributed with two hits and two RBIs. Sam Mack had two of Havre’s three hits, while the other hit belonged to Kelly Kelsey. “We played really well for the first five innings or so,” HHS head coach Bob Evans said. “We had plenty of chances. I thought Steph pitched very well, we just didn’t make enough plays on defense and we missed some chances to score some runs.” Peterson started again in game two for Polson and produced another strong outing, allowing just one run on two hits in five innings pitched to earn her second win of the series. Abi Ita was hit with the loss for the Ponies in her first start of the season. The Pirates racked up two runs in the first inning and added seven in the second, four in the third and one in the fourth in the 14-1 victory. Amanda James notched two doubles, which led to a total of four RBIs in the win for Polson. Maggie Gordon also pitched in with three hits and two RBIs. The only Ponies who managed hits against Polson were Stremcha and Karly Evans. Stremcha had the only RBI in the loss for Havre. With two losses to Polson on Friday, Havre desperately needed to rebound in strong fashion against the Whitefish Bulldogs on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Ponies were also swept at the hands of Whitefish by the scores of 9-5 and 11-9 in nine innings. Whitefish jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the contest following a three-run home run by Devyn Ost in the third inning of the game. But Havre refused to give in and fought back in the fifth inning after a double by Mack scored two runs to trim the Whitefish lead to 9-4. Havre scored another run in the bottom of the seventh but the game was closed out by Devyn Ost. Torey Ost earned her first victory of the season after giving up just three runs in five innings of work. Stremcha was hit with the loss for Havre. She surrendered nine runs in six innings pitched before she was relieved by Ita. Devyn Ost and Hailey Mortensen each had three hits a piece in the win for Whitefish, while Mack had four hits to go along with two hits from Karly Evans and Danika Patterson. In a repeat of the first game, Havre allowed the Bulldogs to jump out to a 9-4 lead as Ita allowed seven runs in the first two innings. However, Havre rallied behind a strong pitching performance from Evans. Evans pitched the last seven innings of the game and allowed just two runs over the first five as HHS scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game. “I thought that Karly came in and pitched very well,” Coach Evans said. “She really did a good job of limiting them offensively and giving us a chance to get back into the game.” Neither team scored in the eighth inning, but Whitefish broke the tie in the ninth as Devyn Ost reached on a single, then stole two bases and scored on a passed ball. It proved to be the winning run as the Ponies stranded runners in the ninth inning. “We just need to make big plays at big times in the game,” Bob Evans said. “We had a lot of chances to beat them. We left a lot of runners on base and we make some errors on defense that really hurt us. But I am very proud of the way the girls fought back. I thought we played really well after the first couple innings, but it just wasn’t enough to win.” The Ponies (1-4) will be in action again this weekend, when they travel to take on Libby and Columbia Falls in back-to-back double headers. They will face the Loggers on Friday in Libby.