News you can use

Blue Ponies ready to hit the diamond

Over the last two seasons, the Havre High softball program has been right on the brink of breaking back into the Class A state softball tournament. And with an extremely talented and experienced junior class back and ready for action, this could very well be the year the Blue Ponies make their move.

While the Central A Ponies only lost two seniors from last year's 3-5 conference team, head coach Danny Wirtzberger knows they leave two very big holes to fill.

“They were two very important seniors that we lost,” Wirtzberger said. “They are going to be missed. Davee Macleod was our No. 1 pitcher and our three-hole hitter, so she is going to be extremely missed with her athletic ability and leadership. And Roxanna Jensen, she was an excellent player for us, too. She is playing college softball right now in California and is going to be missed as our shortstop.”

And just like every year, if the Ponies want to claim a top spot in the conference, they will have to play very well, even with two fewer standouts.

A 3-5 Central A record in each of the last two years has left the Ponies out of state as the No. 4 team in the conference. They have yet to play at the state level since the 2010 season. But last year the Ponies came close at the first annual divisional tournament, and if they can play well at the end of this season, they could make more noise at the second annual divisional tournament as well.

The Ponies were 1-2 at last year’s divisional tournament as they watched the Belgrade Panthers take the No. 1 spot. The Panthers also return this year with no losses to their lineup and as the team to beat. Lewistown also brings in a talented and well-rounded program, but is comparable to Havre as they, too, lost some key seniors. Haylee Dowdell did the entire conference a favor and graduated from the Livingston program and took her standout pitching to the collegiate level. Browning will also field a team this year, but still has a lot of work to do until they can get in a competitive position in the conference.

Havre can break through that barrier and compete at state this season.

“I think it all depends on how we develop throughout the year,” Wirtzberger said. “A lot of it has to do with staying healthy, and a lot of it just has to do with how much we can improve. The Central A has some incredible coaches, and one thing they are known for is playing better at the end of the year, and I hope someday I can be in the same class as they are. But that is one of our main goals, to develop all year long, and get to the point where we are playing our very best softball at the end of the year. If that happens I don’t see any reason why we can’t punch our ticket to state.”

If the Ponies’ junior class can continue to play well, they will have a very talented core to work off of.

Seniors Sydne Huston (infield), China Bohn (outfield) and Natalie Hill (outfield/infield) will be leaned on, but a class of five juniors will be three-year starters for the Ponies this season. Tori Mazurkiewicz (outfield/pitcher), Morgan Mazurkiewicz (infield), Rachel Majeres (pitcher/outfield), Paige Henderson (catcher) and Harlee Boucher (infield) will lead the way for the Ponies this season and are all coming off of great sophomore years.

But HHS will also lean on juniors Jordyn Warren (infield) in her second season and Shania Carlson (outfield) who worked her way into a starting role near the end of last season. Sophomore Scout Boucher (infield) is also returning as is sophomore Dani Wagner, as she looks to become a second-year starter this year as a returning outfielder, pitcher, and leadoff hitter.

“Our sophomores last year were incredible,” Wirtzberger said. “A lot of them started for us, and they are now juniors. We aren’t young like we were last year, and we have girls that have played a lot of varsity games. I am very excited for this junior class, we have some seniors that will produce for us, too, but our foundation is going to be in our juniors.”

The rest of the lineup includes freshmen Paige Warren, Tracyn LaBuda, Maddy Tommercup, Mady Cocoran, Jaycelyn Hassa, Jacey McDonald and Clair Worm.

Majeres will look to carry the pitching load for the Ponies this season. Majeres got ample opportunity last season, but will be the ace this season. Tori Mazurkiewicz and Wagner will also get some time in the pitching circle in specific situations, but Majeres will get the nod more times than not.

“She (Majeres) throws 285 days out of the year, this is her thing,” Wirtzberger said. “And she loves softball. She works very hard, and she has gained a tremendous amount of strength in the last year with weights and throwing. I think with her being that much stronger, I am expecting big things from her.”

Henderson was the best all-around hitter for the Ponies last year, and Wagner was in the leadoff spot. But Majeres will also have to bring her bat for the Ponies to be successful, as will Boucher, Morgan and Tori Mazurkiewicz. Huston and Bohn are also expected to step up and do some things with their offense by coach Wirtzberger.

But good games all around are key, as offense, defense and pitching have to be on point for the Ponies this season. They have a very tough schedule from start to finish and compete in a talented conference. HHS will be tested right out of the gate at the Great Falls Jamboree Saturday, April 5.

At the jamboree the Ponies will face Billings Senior, Billings West, Butte and Laurel, four softball powerhouses in the Class AA and Class A. The Ponies will also play at the Belgrade Invitational, as well as face the tough Central A field this year. The regular season comes to an end at the Butte Central tournament on May 16 and 17, making the Ponies schedule daunting from start to finish.

“That (Great Falls Jamboree) is a great opportunity to see where we stack up against the best of the best in the state.” Wirtzberger said. “Those Class AA programs are bigger, faster and stronger than us, but that is good for us to play against that. But the Butte Central tournament at the end of the year is also one of tournaments the girls have the most fun at because we do get see everybody in the Class A. We really do have a tough schedule when you throw in our conference games, we will be tested.”

Havre High opens the season at the Great Falls Jamboree Friday and Saturday.


Reader Comments(0)