With the first annual Central A softball tournament taking place over the weekend in Havre, one thing is clear, the Central A will be well-represented at the Class A state tournament this weekend in Belgrade.
Friday and Saturday, the Lewistown Golden Eagles, Livingston Rangers, Belgrade Panthers, Havre Blue Ponies and Browning Indians, all battled it out for a spot in the Class A state tournament. The inaugural Central A tournament was played at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Softball Complex in Havre, where the Panthers were crowned conference champions, with an 11-5 win over the Rangers in the chipper.
On the road to the championship, the Panthers defeated the Rangers 8-0 in the quarterfinals, and defeated the Eagles 6-5 in the semifinals. After losing to the Panthers 8-0, the Rangers had to defeat the Indians 24-0 and the Ponies 5-3 in the loser out bracket. The Rangers then defeated the Eagles 7-4 in the semifinals to reach the championship game.
The Panthers went 3-0 on the weekend, while the Rangers went 3-2, the Eagles went 1-2, the Ponies went 1-2, and the Indians went 0-2 on the weekend.
In the chipper, the Panthers looked as impressive as they have all season long. And through the first four innings, the Panthers were on the verge of ending the afternoon early via the mercy rule.
But nonetheless, the win was still impressive, as the Panthers defeated the Rangers after going 0-2 against Livingston in the regular season.
“They had swept us during the year, 11-9 in the eighth inning, and a 5-4 on a walk off homerun,” Belgrade head coach Justin Taylor said. “But here, we beat them pretty easily both times, and I think the girls were just ready to prove they belonged here (first place).”
Belgrade looked poised to run away with the championship, as they quickly held an 11-2 lead through four innings of play. They racked up 10 hits in the first four innings, as well as took advantage of four early Ranger errors. The Panthers also ran the Rangers’ starting pitcher Ariel Howieson out of the game after just two innings of work.
The Panthers didn’t score again after the fourth inning, but their pitching and defense allowed just three more runs, keeping the lead safe from a comeback. The Ragners added one run in fifth and two more in the sixth. But starting pitcher Kristina West kept a healthy cushion early on, and came back in to close out the game late.
Livingston got three hits from Jacey Schleicher, as well as two RBIs. Hailey Versland also had two doubles and one RBI, while Alexandra Schaeffer was 2-for-3 with one RBI as well.
Judy Taylor, Allison Alstrom, Joey Severson, and Kindall Bethke, who all had two hits each, paced the Panthers. Alstrom and Taylor had two RBIs each, and Alstrom had one RBI, while Taylor Hill had one hit and two RBIs, and Taylor Johnson had one hit and one RBI.
The Belgrade defense was key in the successful weekend. They had struggled with errors during the regular season, but focused in late in the season, and over the last three games especially. The Panthers had just two errors all weekend long.
“Our main thing this year,” Coach Taylor said, “was we weren’t hitting the ball very well, and we had a lot of errors. We had two errors this weekend, and any time you can do that, you are going to play well. We haven’t lost a game that we had one or less errors in, so hats off to our girls.”
Belgrade, Livingston, Lewistown will advance to the State A tournament this weekend in Belgrade.
Belgrade 8, Livingston 0
Belgrade 013 202 0 – 8 15 1
Livingston 000 000 0 – 0 2 1
WP - Kristina West; LP – Haley Dowdell
Belgrade – Rylee Cygan 2-5, Autumn Rollins 1-3, Taylor Johnson 2-4 2RBIs, Taylor Hill 2-3 3RBI, Allison Alstrom 3-4 2RBIs, Kindall Bethke 1-4, Marina Layman 1-4, Kristina West 3-3 RBI. Doubles – Bethke; Homeruns – Hill.
Livingston – Meghan Gibson 1-3, Meadow Ingram 1-3. Doubles – Ingram.
Livingston 24, Browning 0
Browning 000 00x x – 0 2 5
Livingston (11)83 2xx x – 24 21 0
WP – Ariel Howieson; LP – Kim Higgins
Browning – Summer Kennerly 1-2, Gail Crawford 1-2.
Livingston – Meghan Gibson 2-3 2RBIs; Jacey Schleicher 1-2 RBI, Haley Dowdell 3-4 4RBIs, Meadow Ingram 4-4 2RBIs, Hailey Versland 2-3 RBI, Katie Lynn Kraus 1-3, Sierra Higgs 3-3 RBI, Vanessa Davaz 4-4 3RBI, Alexandra Schaeffer 1-2, Emily Cornell 1-1 RBI, Jamie Cahoon 1-1. Doubles - Versland. Triple – Dowdell. Homerun – Dowdell.
Belgrade 6, Lewistown 5 (SF)
Lewistown 300 010 1 – 5 8 4
Belgrade 001 130 1 – 6 12 1
WP – Kristina West; LP – Cassi Miller
Lewistown – Alyssa Yaeger 1-2, Nadja Robertson 1-4 2RBIs, Maddie Comes 1-4, Mary Birdwell 2-3 2RBIs, Cassi Miller 3-4 RBI, Sydney Wier 1-2. Doubles – Yaeger, Robertson, Miller. Homeruns – Birdwell.
Belgrade – Judy Taylor 2-4 RBI, Kristina West 2-4 RBI, Taylor Johnson 1-4, Taylor Hill 1-4, Allison Alstrom 2-3, Joey Severson 1-3 2RBIs, Kindall Bethke 1-4 RBI, Marina Layman 1-4 RBI. Doubles – Alstrom. Homeruns – Taylor, West.
Livingston 7, Lewistown 4 (SF)
Lewistown 000 022 0 – 4 7 0
Livingston 220 210 x – 7 10 3
WP Haley Dowdell; LP – Cassi Miller
Lewistown – Alyssa Yaeger 2-4 2RBIs, Nadja Robertson 1-4, Cassi Miller 1-4, Mary Birdwell 1-4 2RBIs, Maddie Comes 1-3, Jessica Kindzerski 1-3. Homeruns – Birdwell.
Livingston — Meghan Gibson 1-3, Jacey Schleicher 1-3 RBI, Haley Dowdell 2-3 2RBIs, Meadow Ingram 1-3 2RBIs, Hailey Versland 2-3, Alexandra Schaeffer 2-3. Homeruns – Ingram.
Belgrade 11, Livingston 5
Livingston 110 012 0 – 5 10 4
Belgrade 315 200 x – 11 13 0
WP – Kristina West; LP – Ariel Howieson
Livingston – Jacey Schleicher 3-4 2RBIs, Hailey Versland 2-4 RBI, Alexandra Schaeffer 2-3 RBI. Doubles – Versland (2).
Belgrade – Judy Taylor 2-3 2RBIs, Kristina West 1-4, Taylor Johnson 1-3 RBI, Taylor Hill 1-3 2RBIs, Allison Alstrom 2-4 2RBIs, Joey Severson 2-2, Kindall Bethke 2-4, Marina Layman 1-4. Doubles Alstrom, Bethke.