George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
In conference play, the road has not been too kind to the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team. On Tuesday, the North Stars lost a pair of conference games at Vauxhall, and earlier in the year, they were swept in Lethbridge as well. But weekend tournaments have been a different story all together, and for the Fourth of July weekend, the North Stars will be at a tournament in Polson, and they will be looking to return to the form that helped them two a successful run at the Havre tournament and a tournament in Bozeman two weeks ago. Havre () will play three games in three days in Polson, against teams that it hasn't seen yet this year. And Havre head coach Steven Fanning is looking forward to seeing how his young team will do against three new clubs. "We will see some quality teams in the Mission Valley Tournament," Fanning said. "Hopefully we can pick up tournament play as we have played it so far this season, and use some momentum into conference games." Havre will start tourney play on Friday at 6 p.m. against the host Mission Valley Pirates. Mission Valley is the defending Class A state champions and the Pirates have another strong team this season. However, the North Stars were one of the few teams to beat Mission Valley last season, so they will be looking for similar results on Friday night. On Saturday, the North Stars will take on the Helena Reps at 11:30 a.m. The Reps are the Class A affiliate of the Class AA Helena Senators, so they usually field a young team. However, they should provide the North Stars with a stern test in Polson. Havre will conclude its tourney play on Sunday at 9 a.m. against Deer Lodge, a team Fanning doesn't know much about. But despite not being familiar with their three opponents this weekend, the North Stars know they will have to be more consistent than they were in four conference games earlier this week a stretch in which the North Stars went 1-3. Pitching has been Havre's strong point most of the season, but earlier in the week, the North Stars struggled to keep Lethbridge and Vauxhall's bats at bay. Still, with a deep staff led by veterans Paul Jensen, Josh Haas, Shane Kemmer and Kyle Miller, the North Stars are still one of the best pitching teams in Class A. Especially with help from Willie DeVries, Justin Jensen and Roman Surber, all of whom have give the North Stars quality innings as of late. At the plate, the North Stars are paced by leading hitters Paul Jensen, Kemmer, Haas and Miller. Havre's lineup does include some youth, but with veterans Nick Nault and Joe Malisani also hitting well, and youngsters like Justin Jensen and DeVries also coming up big in the clutch, Havre hasStarted to gel as an offensive team. "We just need to find more consistency," Fanning said after the doubleheader with Lethbridge on Tuesday in Havre. "We're getting into July now, and all of these games are important games against good clubs. So we really need to start being a more consistent club in all phases of the game." Havre starts its Fourth of July tournament on Friday night in Polson against Mission Valley at 6 p.m. The North Stars will next play at home on July 12 against the Great Falls Sparkies.