Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
Havre High has one of the better up-and-coming softball programs in the state, but nobody expected the Blue Ponies to get off to such an explosive start. On Friday, the Western A Ponies defeated the defending Class A state champions twice in a home doubleheader. In game one in Havre, the Ponies defeated the Libby Loggers 10-1. And in game two, the Ponies defeated the Loggers 10-5. And on Saturday the Ponies' overwhelming success continued when they swept the Whitefish Bulldogs in two more games on the road. First the Ponies defeated the Bulldogs 11-5, and then finishing the weekend strong, the Ponies beat the Bulldogs 13-3. With four more conference wins tacked on to the Ponies' record they have gotten off to one of the best starts in their short history. The Ponies lead the league and are sitting in good position with a 5-0 conference record. “I didn’t expect those kind of scores,” Havre High head coach Bob Evans said. “Our girls stepped up and hit the ball and our pitchers threw well. This is the best start that we’ve ever had in conference, and we are off to a great start.” In game one against the Loggers Friday in Havre, the Ponies Tabitha Myers got the victory. Evans noticed she struggled with her change-up, but overall it didn’t make a difference. She retired seven out of the first 10 Loggers she faced, and ended the game with three strikeouts and only two walks. “Tabby (Tabitha Myers) pitched an extremely good game,” Evans said. “She threw strikes, so she was tough.” Defense for the Ponies was also tough. When the rarity of a Logger base runner did occur, the Ponies' defense still made its presence felt. In the second inning, catcher Chelsea Nottingham was able to pick off Jordan Refsland at second base and end the inning. “Our defense played really well,” Evans said. “We made all the plays that we needed to make, we were fired up and did a great job and came out on top.” The bats were also still on fire for HHS. The Loggers held a one-run lead after a run scored on a passed ball, but in the bottom of the third inning, the Ponies turned the game around. Karly Evans laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Myers to second base, and Samantha Mack got things started with an RBI double. And later in the inning, Natalie Kato and Amanda Hanson both knocked in runs to put the Ponies up 3-1. HHS knocked in two more runs in the fifth, and five more in the sixth. And included in the sixth inning explosion was Kelli Kelsey’s two-run home run to left-center field. “That’s always nice,” Evans said. “We don’t hit many home runs, so that was fun to watch.” An explosive offense gave the Ponies a 10-1 victory over the Loggers in game one of the doubleheader, and it continued into the second game. But this time around it would be Abi Ita getting the run support and the win on the mound. “She kind of struggled early in the game with her control,” Evans said. “But in the last few innings she threw pretty good.” But until Ita could really settle into a groove, the Ponies offense gave her a nice lead to work with. Karly Evans reached base on a first-inning walk, and scored on a passed ball. And, two batters later, Kelsey drove in Mack with a single to go up 2-0 early. But this time around, the Ponies offense erupted in the third inning when Holly Cartwright, Kato, Hanson, Myers and Mack all drove in runs, and drove Jesamine Huff, the Loggers starting pitcher out of the game. The Ponies went up 10-1 in the third inning, and would eventually take the game 10-5. “That was a lot of runs for us,” Evans said. “We have never been able to generate that many runs against that kind of competition before, so I was really pleased with our kids. Both games they hit really, really well.” After the third inning the Ponies didn’t score another run. But in the top of the fourth the Loggers would challenge the Ponies with three more of their own. The Loggers scored three runs on five singles and a hit batter. The Loggers also applied offensive pressure in the seventh, when Taylor Barton knocked in another run and cut the lead to 10-5. But limiting the scare, the Ponies recorded a double play to end the inning and the game. In game one, Myers Karly Evans, Mack and Kelsey all led the Ponies by going 2-for-4 from the plate. And both Karly Evans and Kelsey knocked in two RBIs. In game two, Kato went 3-for-4 from the plate with an RBI, while Cartwright and Mack both went 2-for-4 with two RBIs On Saturday, the Ponies were on the road when they found themselves at the winning end of two more conference games against the Bulldogs. And the big story was once again the Ponies' hot bats. In game one of the doubleheader in Whitefish, the Ponies dominated the Bulldogs to get the 11-5 victory. Kelsey was 5-for-5 with two RBIs, while Kato went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Courtney Bricker went 3-for-3. Karly Evans also went 2-for-3 from the plate and drove in three runs. “We just played good softball,” Evans said. “It was fun.” And the fun continued in game two against the Bulldogs, when the Ponies got the 13-3 victory. Mack drove in three RBIs with here 2-for-4 at bat performance while Myers went 3-for-5 for the Ponies. “We are getting hits from everybody in the lineup,” Evans said. “We weren’t relying on two or three girls, we are hitting all the way through the lineup and everybody that played contributed this weekend.” Bricker came through in a big way when she went another perfect 3-for-3 and drove in six more runs. “It was kind of a surprise for her,” Evans said. “She had a couple of great games.” The biggest difference in the Ponies two wins on Saturday was the fact that they didn’t have one explosive inning. HHS put a lot of people on base, and the bats continuously came through, putting runs on the board throughout the seven innings. “It’s nice to put pressure on them every inning, and we did that,” Evans said. “Every inning almost we had people in scoring position, and we did really well with two away. Everything went well for us this weekend.” Karly Evans pitched her way to another conference win in game one, and Myers clinched another win in game two. And both Myers and Karly Evans had outstanding afternoons. “We just didn’t give up many runs,” Evans said. “Our pitching has been pretty darn good.” The two wins on Friday followed by the two wins on Saturday have given the Ponies their best start yet. They are sitting at 5-0 in the conference and only have five more conference games to go. And with the way the Ponies are playing, their goal of a state bid is growing more and more achievable. “We all want to get back to the state tournament,” Evans said. “And that’s what we are shooting for. And baring a miracle I don’t think they can keep us out now.” HHS will see another conference opponent on Friday, as the Ponies hit the road to play Polson.