To say the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball club has been would be putting it mildly.
Just last weekend, the North Stars played five games in four days in Billings, then embarked a Canadian road trip where they played four conference games in two days. Havre went 2-2 on that trip and now stands at a stellar 9-5 in Northern District play.
And after splitting road games with both Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge, the North Stars are right back at as they travel to Three Forks for the annual Gallatin Valley Open. The tournament is hosted by the Gallatin Valley Outlaws, one of the powerhouses of Class A Legion baseball.
In Three Forks, Havre, which is 10-11 overall, will get five games in just three days, and all will be nonconference games against quality opponents.
Today, the North Stars face off against the Lewistown Redbirds and the Outlaws. Both Lewistown and Gallatin Valley are ranked in the latest Universal Athletic/Great Falls Tribune Power Poll. Lewistown is 19-4 on the season, including one victory over the North Stars. The Redbirds are ranked No. 1 in Class A this week. The Outlaws are 21-5 and are ranked fourth in the state, so today’s games in Three Forks will certainly be challenging for the North Stars, who probably won’t be able to start both top pitchers Brandon Smith and Justin Jensen. Jensen just pitched a complete-game against Lethbridge on Wednesday night.
On Saturday the North Stars will take on two more Southern powers in the Bitterroot Red Sox, as well as Deer Lodge. The Red Sox are a traditional Class A power, though this year, it’s the Bitterroot Bucs who appear to be the top team in the valley. Deer Lodge is a bit of an unknown, but the squad did reach the Class A state tournament a year ago.
Havre raps up its week of nine games in five days with a bout with the Glendive Blue Devils on Sunday afternoon in Three Forks. Glendive is normally one of the top teams in the Eastern District year in and year out.
And playing five games in three days may be pushing the North Stars to new limits, but playing five quality opponents will certainly get Havre ready for the final push of the season.
When Havre returns from Three Forks, the North Stars will see nothing but league opponents the rest of the way. And in the grand scheme of things, district games are all that matter, as head coach Dan Wirtzberger has a solid North Star club in a good position in the Northern District. Heading into next week’s road games at Vauxhall, the North Stars are currently tied for second in the district, just behind the first-place Great Falls Electrics.
Havre has four more road games over the next two weeks before the North Stars finally play at home again. Havre will take on the Tri-County Cardinals on June 29 at Legion Field.