Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High softball team had to overcome a late start to its season because of weather delays, and now after nearly two weeks without a game, the Blue Ponies will once again attempt to get back into the swing of things. On Friday, the Western A Ponies (5-0) will host the conference rival Columbia Falls Wildcats at 5 p.m. And on Saturday, the Ponies will host the Havre Invitational at both the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field and the Hospital Field. At the Sixth Avenue, the Ponies will get things stared at 9 a.m. Saturday when they face Columbia Falls. And following that game, Shelby will play Poplar at 10:45 a.m., Conrad will play Glasgow at 12:15 p.m., Simms will play Poplar at 1:45 p.m., the Ponies will play Conrad at 3:15 p.m. and to wrap things up, the Ponies will face Cut Bank at 4:45 p.m. And at the Hospital field, Simms and Glasgow play at 9 a.m. to get the invite started. And to follow, Havre JV plays Columbia Falls JV at 10:45 a.m., Lewistown plays Columbia Falls JV at 12:15 p.m., Cut Bank plays Columbia Falls at 1:45 p.m., Shelby plays Lewistown at 3:15 p.m. and Havre JV plays Lewistown at 4:45 p.m. The Ponies and Wildcats meet every year in conference play, but because the Ponies have yet to see them this season, they don’t know quite what to expect out of the Wildcats on Friday. But since the Ponies are sitting at about .500 against the Wildcats in past matchups, HHS is expecting another close game. “I expect them to be a good team,” Havre High head coach Bob Evans said. “But I don’t know any more than that about them. We should be able to compete with them if we play well and don’t make many mistakes. It should be a good battle.” And with the way the Ponies were playing before their two-week delay in games, they have good reason to be confident. They have been playing extremely well, and neither offensive nor defensive mistakes have been problematic this season. But after such a long period with no games, it is hard to say how the Ponies will react this weekend. It may take some time getting back into the groove they had settled into, or they may very well pick up right where they had left off. “It’s kind of tough when you miss your turns,” Evans said. “We are trying to keep the kids mentally ready, and that’s tough to do for two weeks without any games. We have to get back into the swing of things, and if we continue to hit the ball well and play good defense we should do alright.” Pitching for the Ponies has also been what has made them so successful early. Karly Evans, Tabitha Myers and Abi Ita have all pitched this season and combined for the teams' five wins. And who gets the starting job on Friday will just depend on how the rest of this weeks practice goes. The final pitching decisions for Saturday will also come much closer to game time. And since they will have three games, Karly Evans, Myers and Ita will all take the mound for the Ponies. Playing three games in one day, and four games in two can really take a toll on a team, but with having three solid pitchers and a relatively deep roster, the Ponies are just happy to have the chance to take the field. “We should be alright,” Evans said. “We have three pitchers, so I am not really concerned. I don’t think these three games will hurt us at all, we will get a chance to play all the girls and I think that we should be fine.” And after facing the Columbia Falls Wildcats on Friday evening, the Ponies turn right back around to face them early Saturday morning. But having the opportunity to see the Wildcats program the night before doesn’t present HHS with much of an advantage. “We just have to come out and play our game again,” Evans said. “I don’t know if there is an advantage seeing them the day before because they had a chance to see what we do too.” HHS is also in a similar situation when it comes to playing the Cut Bank Wolves and the Conrad Cowgirls. Evans and the Ponies don’t know much about either team, just that both games should also make for good competition. “They (Cut Bank) are usually up and down a little bit I think.” Evans said. “In some years they have good programs and in others they struggle a little bit. And Conrad is usually pretty tough. Year after year they usually have a pretty good program.” And to be successful, the Ponies are sticking to their same plan of attack. They need good defense to back up good pitching, and for the bats to stay consistent across the lineup. And more than anything, the Ponies need to find a way to get back to the level they were at before the weather put a hold on their season. Saturday’s Havre Invite presents the opportunity for the Ponies to tack on three more wins to their record. But more than anything, it is just a good opportunity to get out of practice mode. “I don’t think we are worried about our record so much,” Evans said. “I think we are just wanting to get a chance to play, and to get some games under our belt. If we play well we should be able to get some wins, but if we don’t, we will just have to get ready for the next weekend.” It’s hard to stay at such a high level of play with just practicing, and no games. But to get back to that level and continue to be successful, the Ponies are going to need good play this weekend by the entire team. “I am not expecting any miracles out of the girls,” Evans said. “Just for them to step up and play like they can. We just hope they can keep the level of intensity up and stay mentally ready.” The Ponies first host the Wildcats Friday evening at 5 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Ponies host the Havre Invitational where they will play three more games. First they face the Wildcats at 9 a.m., the Cowgirls at 3:15 p.m. and finally the Wolves at 4:45 p.m.