Update 8 p.m.: Havre vs Belgrade doubleheader moved to April 20
The Havre High softball team is excited to make its home debut this weekend, but the Blue Ponies also know they have a very tough test in front of them, as they host what is probably the top team in the conference.
Saturday, the Central A Blue Ponies will play at home for the first time this season. And with just one weekend of action behind th
em, the visiting Belgrade Panthers are going to challenge the Ponies in every way. The Ponies and Panthers will play two games at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field in Havre, the first at 2 p.m. and the second at 4 p.m.
HHS has played four games, none of which counted towards the Ponies record. All four games were in the Great Falls Jamboree, kicking off the new season. The Panthers on the other hand, have already recorded some dominating wins this season, showing they are still the team to beat with just three seniors on the roster this season. Anchored by senior pitcher Justine Taylor, the Panthers also return six juniors and seven sophomores. Morgan Wandler and Annie Prickett are the other senior standouts.
“They should be pretty powerful again this year,” Havre High head coach Mike Thill said. “They know how to win and have tradition of winning there, and they know how to close out games. It seems like they never have to rebuild, they just keep reloading.”
The young Ponies will have to play extremely well to remain competitive this weekend. Taylor was 11-2 as the Panthers pitcher last season, so the Pony batters have to be smart and pick their pitches carefully. And on defense, HHS also has to play well, executing the fundamentals in the outfield and infield, also limiting their errors. Their best game at the Great Falls Jamboree earlier this season was a 3-1 loss to Butte High, and coach Thill would like to see more play like that, as well as some improvements and strides forward.
“We just have to play well and make it a real ball game,” Thill said. “We need to build on what we have been working on defensively and get the kids to keep executing on offense.”
The lineup still isn’t set for the Ponies. And due to the games being rescheduled for this weekend, instead for later in the season, not all of the varsity lineup will be able to make the doubleheader. But with players like Mary Lyons, Michaela Boles, Paige Henderson, Lexi Olson, Davee MacLeod, Morgan Mazurkiewicz and Clarissa martin still in the lineup, the Ponies have some tools capable of performing well. Coach Thill will also bring up Harlee Boucher, Liz Facio and Lauran Britt from the junior varsity team to help out. Boucher, Facio and Britt all played extremely well their last time out, playing at the Cut Bank Invitational.
“I would like to see everybody step up and keep building on what they did the last time out,” Thill said. “But we have Mary Lyons and this is her first year behind the plate for us. I am looking for her to be a little more comfortable back there after those four games in Great Falls.”
If the weather permits, the Ponies and Panthers will play two games on Saturday at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field in Havre. The first game will be at 2 p.m., and the second at 4 p.m.