It takes a lot for a team to bounce back after a five-game slide, but that is exactly what the Havre High softball team did during the second half of a doubleheader on Saturday.
Going into Saturday’s conference doubleheader with Livingston, the Central A Blue Ponies were struggling. They had just dropped two games to Belgrade the night before, and two to Columbia Falls last weekend. And making matters worse, the Rangers defeated the Ponies 5-0 in game one on Saturday. Finally, the Ponies were able to find their way back into the win column with a 12-7 win over the Rangers in the nightcap.
After the doubleheader on Friday and the doubleheader on Saturday, and going 1-3 on the weekend, the Ponies are now 2-3 in the Central A Conference and are sitting 2-6 overall.
“It felt amazing to get this win,” Havre High senior Clarissa Martin said. “The team really needed that win. And I think it was our attitude, we normally beat ourselves up when we are losing, but today we just came back and knew we had to win this game to put us that much closer to state. We are all very excited.”
In the win over the Rangers, the Ponies showed just how much potential this young squad has. And more importantly, the Ponies kept their post season hopes alive, utilizing solid pitching, much better defense than previously shown and a lot of great at bats from across the lineup.
But the win didn’t necessarily come easily. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Ponies found themselves trailing the majority of the seven innings. At times, the Rangers led 4-2, 5-4 and 7-5. It seemed like every time the Ponies would find a way to score some runs, the Rangers answered right back. But after the Ponies started the game with three straight doubles, it seemed as if it was just a matter of time before the Havre offense took over.
“We were down a couple of times, but we kept pecking away,” Havre High head coach Mike Thill said. “The girls played hard, stayed with it and nobody got down on themselves.
“To only got two hits yesterday in two games,” Thill added. “And three hits today in the first game, and then to come out and just keep building the entire game, that was what we needed. The coaching staff has always believed in them, but maybe the girls didn’t believe in themselves just yet.”
After five innings were in the books, the Rangers led 7-5. But in the top of the sixth inning, the Ponies took a 10-7 lead. Michaela Boles led off with a single and Harlee Boucher got on board with an error. Davee McLeod then grabbed a single of her own, allowing Mary Lyons to crank a two RBI single. Two batters later, Morgan Mazurkiewicz crushed a well hit single into the outfield for two
more RBIs. Mazurkiewicz also scored on two throwing errors after the hit, giving the Ponies the 10-7 lead.
McLeod shut down the Rangers in the bottom of the sixth inning and the bottom of the seventh to ensure the win. But the Ponies also grabbed two more security runs in the top of the seventh. McLeod hit an RBI triple, scoring Boles, but also scored from third on another error throw by the Rangers.
Overall, the Ponies grabbed the 12 runs on 15 hits. Boles was3-of-5, Boucher was 2-of-5 with an RBI, McLeod was 3-of -4 with 3 RBIs, Mary Lyons 3-of-5 with 3 RBIs, Paige Henderson was 1-of-5, Mazurkiewicz was 1-of-4 with 2 RBIs, and Martin was 2-of-4 with an RBI. McLeod also had a double and a triple, while Boucher and Lyons both had a double as well.
McLeod recorded the win for the Ponies. Rachel Majers came in on relief in the fourth, and pitched one inning before McLeod returned. Majers gave up one hit but was responsible for two runs. In McLeod’s six innings of work, she gave up five runs, but also struck out nine batters.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Ponies were still overcoming their tough outing against the Panthers the night before. HHS had just three hits and had three more errors. Paige Henderson and Martin both had a single in the second inning, while the Ponies third hit came from Boles in the third.
Majers got the start on the mound for the Ponies, and gave up three runs in three and three-thirds innings. McLeod came on in relief and gave up two more runs.
HHS also put their defense on display on Saturday. In both games against the Rangers, the Ponies stepped up big time. In the first game, Olson made a diving stop in right field to prevent extra bases, and Mazurkiewicz knocked down a line drive that was crushed down the third baseline, almost throwing the runner out at first. And in the second game, Boles had two of the better assists from center field that fans may see all season long, in Class A or otherwise. In the fourth inning Alexandra Schaeffer put the ball all the way to the fence in center field, but Boles threw a strike to second base for the out as Schaeffer dug for a double. And in the fifth inning, Boles threw another strike, this time from left-center, throwing out Kayla Polillo at the plate trying to score from first base.
The Ponies showed signs of great play, great potential as a young squad. Now sitting at 2-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference, the Ponies will host Browning for one game on Friday and travel to Lewistown on Saturday for a doubleheader.
Livingston 5, Blue Ponies 0
Livingston 002 102 0 – 5 8 1
Havre 000 000 0 – 0 3 3
WP – Haley Dowdell; LP – Rachel Majers
Livingston – Jacey Schleicher 0-3, Haley Dowdell 1-4, Kristine Churchwell 2-4 RBI, Kayla Polillo 1-4, Cassidy Versland 2-3, Meadow Ingram 1-4, Katie Lynn Kraus 0-4, Alexandra Schaeffer 1-3, MacKenzie Corder0-3,
Havre – Michaela Boles 1-3, Harlee Boucher 0-3, Davee McLeod 0-3, Mary Lyons 0-3, Paige Henderson 1-3, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 0-3, Masha Barnekoff 0-3, Clarissa Martin 1-2, Lexi Olson 0-3, Sydne Huston 0-1.
Blue Ponies 12, Rangers 7
Livingston 401 020 0 – 7 10 5
Havre 211 0152x – 12 15 0
WP – Davee McLeod; LP Haley Dowdell
Livingston – Jacey Schleicher 1-4, Haley Dowdell 2-4, Kristine Churchwell 2-4, Kayla Polillo 2-4 2RBIs, Cassidy Versland 0-4 RBI, Meadow Ingram 0-4, Katie Lynn Kraus 1-6, Alexandra Schaeffer 2-3 RBI, MacKenzie Corder 0-3
Havre – Michaela Boles 3-5, Harlee Boucher 2-5 RBI, Davee McLeod 3-4 3RBIs, Mary Lyons 3-5 3RBI, Paige Henderson 1-5, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 1-4 2RBIs, Masha Barnekoff 0-1, Liz Facio 0-3 RBI, Clarissa Martin 2-4 RBI, Lexi Olson 0-4