By Tiffany L. Rehbein
If the Havre Northstars are going into the American Legion Baseball Northwest Pacific tournament just like they go into every game, as manager Mickey Williams said, then they must be going to win.
The Northstars, who returned to Havre last week with the State A championship trophy, leave for Glendive on Thursday to play in the regional tournament.
The Northstars open the tournament on Friday, Aug. 13, against the No. 1 Wyoming team. Host Glendive Blue Devils, also representative of Montana, will play the nightcap against the No. 2 seed from Washington state. Glendive placed third at state, but received an automatic berth to the tournament as the host team.
At the state tournament last week in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, Havre downed Glendive in a semifinal nailbiter 9-6.
The kids made the plays when they needed to make them, Williams said about the Northstar win over Glendive.
Josh Lybecker pitched a two-hit game that day and was also awarded the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Pitching seems to be what Havre does best.
At the state tournament pitching was our strength, Williams said.
More at state, Lybecker pitched a shutout against Glasgow where he hurled 11 strikeouts and walked only one batter. He has pitched 45 strikeouts in conference play. At state, he threw 1.5 ERA and pitched 12 innings. The opponent scored only 29 runs against Northstar pitchers this season.
Havre tallied 128 runs that included a grand slam home run by Alan Mapes in the fourth inning of the championship match-up that helped seal the victory.
We need to play with the teams, Mapes said about playing at the regional tournament. In my opinion, we can take it. We need to play heads-up ball.
From the plate in conference play, Ricky Brown led the team with a .570 batting average that included seven triples. Jake Ingram follows closely batting at .547 on the season. At state, Brown and Ingram both batted .571, Ingram had a triple at that tournament. Mapes leads the team in RBIs with 73 overall.
The Northstars, who last brought home a state title in 1984, finished the regular season 23-3 in conference play. They won four straight at districts and four straight at state to go 8-0 in tournament play.
However, Bryan Thompson and Jared Wirt will be missing from the Northstar lineup this weekend. Both are practicing for the pre-football season at their respective post-secondary institutions.
With Jared, well miss his speed on the bases, and Bryans catching. Steve [Fanning] will have to catch every game and he might be a little tired, Williams said. But other people will step in for them, thats whats good about this team.
Williams, who will retire after this season, has a 42-10 overall record this season. Eight teams from five states Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho will meet in Glendive on Friday.
The best of the best shall reign.