Already this season, the Havre High softball team has shown flashes of great softball. And if it weren’t for a couple of letups last weekend, the Blue Ponies could be riding into a very tough weekend with a couple of momentous wins.
But even after dropping two games to Columbia Falls last weekend, the Central A Blue Ponies are continuing to improve. And while they know the visiting Belgrade Panthers and Livingston Rangers will make for four very tough conference games, the Ponies also know they should be able to compete in four games that could be crucial in who makes and misses the state tournament.
The Ponies will host both the Panthers and Rangers at the Sixth Avenue Memorial field this weekend. HHS will face Belgrade at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. today, and HHS will face Livingston at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
“Every weekend is a big weekend for us,” Havre High head coach Mike Thill said. “But we hope to see some growth from last weekend. All we have seen from these teams is what we have seen in the newspaper. We are certainly going to have our hands full, but we did a much better job against Columbia Falls (last weekend) than we did last year, so we are feeling positive about that and we are looking for another real positive weekend.”
Both the Panthers and Rangers will challenge the Ponies.
The Panthers have already defeated some of the states top teams, including Billings Skyview, as well as the defending Class AA state champions, Butte High. And for the Rangers, they should be very seasoned and tough as well. The Rangers had no seniors to lose from last season, and according to coach Thill, return a handful of four starters, including their catcher and a pitcher.
For the Ponies to be successful, they need eliminate the bad innings they had last weekend. Facing Columbia Falls, the Ponies gave up the combined 15 runs in just two innings. And to eliminate the possibility of a bad streak this weekend, Thill stressed that it will come down to both their defense and pitching. Rachel Majers and Davee McLeod will share the pitching duties again.
“We have to clean up a little bit of both (defense and pitching),” Thill said. “The pitcher might throw a ball that is hit, but then the defense has to make a play and help bail them out. But also, when the defense comes up with a couple of good plays, the pitcher needs to focus in a little bit better. We take it pitch by pitch, not game by game.”
And as usual, the bats are crucial for the Ponies as well.
Michaela Boles has had a good couple of games, including three four hits last weekend. Clarissa Martin has also hit well as of late, as has Morgan Mazurkiewicz. But it is going to take the whole lineup stepping up and waking up their bats if they hope to make some noise against the Panthers or Rangers.
“It’s our confidence,” Thill said. “Coach Larson has been throwing live bunting and hitting practice, and she is throwing as hard or harder than any pitcher we have faced. The girls are getting used to seeing more live pitching and getting more confortable at taking a swing.
“If we play how we have been practicing,” Thill added. “We should be able to compete with anybody in the conference.”
The Ponies will host the Panthers and Rangers at the Sixth Avenue Memorial field this weekend. HHS will face Belgrade at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. today, and HHS will face Livingston at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The Blue Ponies will also be back home next Friday to host the Browning Indians in a varstiy-junior varsity doubleheader. before traveling to Lewistown on April 28 for a pair of Central A Conference games. HHS is also home May 5 for the Havre Invitational.