North Stars return to Northern A play
With 10 nonconference games in the last two weeks, the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball club has had ample time to get things going as they head into the heart of district play.
Now, the North Stars will get to put that experience to the test. Starting today at Legion Field, the North Stars play six Northern A games in the next five days, kicking off with a home doubleheader this afternoon against the Fort MacLeod Royals.
Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson
Havre's Brandon Smith fires a pitch toward home during an American Legion baseball game earlier this month in Havre. The North Stars are at Legion Field today at 3 p.m. for a doubleheader against the Fort MacLeod Royals.
Havre is coming off a tough weekend in Gallatin Valley where the North Stars lost four of five games at the Gallatin Valley Tournament. The theme for the weekend was Havre seeing some very good pitching, and that should come in handy today since the Royals have arguably the best pitcher in the conference.
Havre already has a pair of losses to Fort MacLeod earlier this month in Alberta and, in those losses, the Royals' pitchers were dominant. The North Stars are hoping for a role reversal today however, and it starts at the dish.
Despite facing tough pitching, the North Stars do have a lineup capable of producing runs. Havre doesn't carry the big bats of past North Star teams, but when the current North Stars are hitting, they are tough to beat. Havre has made a living with small ball this season, and they've done well on the base paths. With leadoff hitter Justin Jensen leading the team in stolen bases, it sets the table for the heart of Havre's lineup and hitters like Brandon Smith, Colt Young and Mark Vukasin. Justin Denny has also been able to produce runs for the North Stars this season, and he currently leads the team in batting average.
And if the North Stars can produce a few runs today, they'll certainly have a chance to hang with the Royals. Havre's pitching staff has been solid this season with Smith, Jensen and Gareth Bernard leading the way. But the North Stars also get quality innings from Vukasin, Spencer Morkrid and Kolby Sukut and defense has been another key to Havre's success.
Still, in order to compete in the Northern A the rest of the summer, the North Stars will want to do better against quality pitching staffs like the Royals and the Great Falls Electrics, which have combined to go 4-0 against the North Stars in district play. And doing better starts today with the doubleheader against Fort MacLeod. Havre brings a 9-11 overall record into today's action at Legion Field. But the North Stars are sitting 3-5 in district play, and with four road games on the slate this weekend, at Vauxhall and Medicine Hat, today's games will be crucial as Havre hits the stretch run of the season.
Today's games between the North Stars and Royals will get under way at 3 p.m. at Legion Field. The North Stars go to Medicine Hat on Saturday and Vauxhall on Sunday for four more district games. Havre returns home on June 28 to face the Great Falls Electrics in a Northern A doubleheader.
Legion double dip
Havre North Stars
Fort MacLeod Royals
Today at 3 p.m.
Legion Field in Havre
North Stars are 9-11 overall and 3-5 in Northern A District play.
Next at home: June 28 vs Great Falls Electrics