The weekend forecast has already changed, and changed again for the Havre area, but the Havre High softball program is hoping for a window of opportunity, as the Central A Blue Ponies gear up to host their annual Havre Softball Invitational.
Saturday, several teams will gather at Sixth Avenue Memorial Field and at Hospital Park in Havre. This weekend, Lewistown, Conrad, Glasgow, Shelby and Cut Bank will be in attendance for varsity action, while Shelby, Lewistown, Cut Bank, Shelby and Great Falls Central will have junior varsity teams also getting in a handful of games, if the weather permits. All junior varsity games will be played at the Hospital Park field in Havre.
The Blue Ponies are currently 2-2 in the Central A and 4-2 overall this season. And the Ponies will play two varsity games, including a very important conference game against Lewistown at 9:30 a.m. Later in the day the Ponies will face the nonconference, Class B Conrad Cowgirls at 2 p.m.
“Teams always enjoy coming to our diamond because it is well kept and we have a bunch of fans that love coming and watching the games,” Havre High head coach Danny Wirtzberger said. “We also have some of the best umpires in our region, so we are very fortunate. Now we will cross our fingers and just hope the weather turns out better than what it is supposed to be. I want everybody to have a good time, and I want all of the teams to get good games, but all I am focused on right now is our one morning game.
“We have been scouting Lewistown, and we have been focused on the things they do well, and working on how to stop those things in our practices this week,” Wirtzberger added. “The girls have worked very hard this week, they have been staying after practice to hit, and working on the things they think they need to be successful in that morning game on Saturday.”
In early April, the Ponies and Golden Eagles crossed paths at the Belgrade Jamboree. The Eagles captured the 3-1 win that doesn’t count towards anything but bragging rights. But as the season has progressed, the Ponies have shown vast improvement, escaping eight error outings with no run support, to limited mistakes, with hot at bats. HHS scored a combined 38 runs in its last two outings against nonconference opponents.
“Our bats are on fire right now,” Wirtzberger said. “And we are going to face a great pitcher in Lewistown’s Cassie Miller. Hopefully we can compile some hits on top of each other and get a bunch of runs early and often. A lot of our batting success was due to us working on our order, and finding out what best suits us. I think we have found a good one now, and we have been getting contagious hits, and that is what we needed.”
But the Eagles can swing the bats as well, and they proved that with 11 runs off of 10 hits in a loss against Belgrade. With players like Teale Dannel, Ali Gremaux, Maddie Comes, Miller, Jessica Kindzerski, Nora Weichel, Karlei Southworth, Shelby Alexander, Mikayla Comes and Paige Towne, Rachel Majeres is going to have her hands full from the pitching circle.
Majeres has also shown great improvement and has been very consistent in her pitching duties this year. If she can get the run support she needs against a good conference foe, then the Ponies should compete well Saturday morning.
“She has been so consistent over the last two years, and she just gets stronger and stronger, and continues to hit her spots,” Wirtzberger said. “I think she is turning into the best pitcher in the conference. Rachel will keep us in the game, it is up to our hitters to win the game for us.”
Dani Wagner, Paige Henderson and Scout Boucher have led the Pony bats so far, but Majeres has also been helping her own cause at the plate, while Tori Mazurkiewicz, Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Harlee Boucher, Shaniah Carlson, China Bohn and Jordyn Warren have also been coming around.
Conrad won’t be a pushover either, as they also house one of the best young pitchers in the state. Class B or not, freshman Tristin Achinbach is already turning heads all over the state.
Hits have come in bunches for the Ponies as of late, and if they hope to get past the Eagles, and even the Cowgirls, they will have to continue to find the same success at the plate. Conrad also brings in talented players like Hanna Bowers, Michaela DeBoo, and Kaylee Taule, the only senior on the roster for the Cowgirls this season.
“We will face one of the best Class B pitchers in the state,” Wirtzberger said. “We are excited to see her, I have seen her pitch before, and it will be nice to see what our girls can do against her. But we aren’t worried about that game like we are Lewistown, we just want to compete and play well.”
Away from the varsity field, Saturday also brings two games for the Havre junior varsity. At 11:15 a.m. the Ponies will face the Lewistown junior varsity, and at 12:45 the Ponies will face the Great Falls Central junior varsity.
Tuesday the junior varsity squad split with Great Falls Central in Great Falls, and will look to also keep their momentum moving forward. In a 10-7 win over GFC, the Ponies’ Wagner crushed a grand slam in what turned out to be a six-run second inning. Wagner finished with two hits and four RBIs, while Jacey MacDonald and Mady Corcoran also had two hits each. Wagner also got the win with her five innings of work from the rubber, striking out five and walking just two. The Ponies lost the nightcap 5-2, but Warren did finish with two hits for the Ponies.
On Saturday. the Havre Invite will run all day at Sixth Avenue Memorial Field and the Hospital Park field.
9:30 a.m. Havre vs Lewistown
11:00 a.m. Conrad vs Glasgow
12:30 p.m. Lewistown vs Shelby
2:00 p.m. Havre vs Conrad
4:00 p.m. Cut Bank vs Glasgow
Hospital Park Field
9:45 a.m. Shelby vs Great Falls Central
11:15 a.m. Havre JV vs Lewistown JV
12:45 p.m. Great Falls Central vs Havre JV
2:15 p.m. Lewistown JV vs Cut Bank