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North Stars excited to swing the lumber in Whitefish


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Ethan Roberts lays down a bunt during an American Legion baseball game earlier this month in Havre. The North Stars are in Whitefish this weekend for the annual Ed Gallo Memorial Wood Bat Tournament. Havre will then play six straight Northern A District games next week.

One of the traditions for the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team is playing every year in the Ed Gallo Memorial Wood Bat Tournament.

And this weekend in Whitefish the North Stars will compete in the annual tournament once again, the one that only allows teams to use wood bats, which are far different from the aluminum bats Legion teams use normally. The action gets underway today, and for the North Stars, things will get started this afternoon at 3:30 against Calgary. Havre is scheduled to play Olympia/Capital Friday, also at 3:30 p.m., followed by two games Saturday, one against the Glacier Twins at 10:30 a.m. and another against Scobey. The first pitch in that game will go out at 3:30 p.m.

"They (the players) always get really excited about it," North Stars head coach Dick Fuzesy said. "They always like the bats and think that we need to get more of them. We went up to Medicine Hat for a non-conference game (Tuesday), and we used nothing but wooden bats, just so we could get a little more of a feel for it before the tournament. And we hit pretty well."

Coming into the tournament, the North Stars are 9-12 on the season. Yet they are currently riding a five-game losing streak that started last weekend in Williston and continued in Medicine Hat Tuesday. However, Fuzesy said his team was sticking together and hoping to turn the momentum around this weekend.

"I think the big thing is that we are still having fun," Fuzesy said. "They aren't bickering with each other, they are still getting along well and having a positive attitude. I think having that good team chemistry is important because it can go away when you aren't winning. So I think that's been a good thing for us. And the teams we played down there in Williston, are good teams. We think we have a chance to finish among the top two teams in our group and then we will go from there. But we want to try to go down and get some wins. We are still going to experiment with a few things, especially with our pitchers, but we want to try and get that momentum back that we had."

One thing Fuzesy said he is studying at these non-conference tournaments are his pitchers. For the first time, Legion baseball is using pitch counts and that will be a change when the district tournament rolls around next month.

"Last week in Williston, we pitched our guys right up to the pitch count, just to see if they could handle going again the next day," Fuzesy said. "We are still trying to get a handle on how everyone is going to do and how much rest they need and things like that. So we are still trying a few different things and trying to use these tournaments to prepare ourselves for districts and how we will need to manage our pitchers there."

The North Stars have a deep group of pitchers led by Brendan Garden, who has been the team's most consistent starter this season. Yet Havre also has solid work from others such as Austin Delarosa, Gavin Mosbrucker, Kennedy McKay, Brenden Danielson, Ethan Roberts and Jake Sedahl, who is normally the everyday catcher.

Offensively, the North Stars are led by Trey Murphy, who has a .514 average, as well as Kelden Sullivan and Tony Antley, who are each hitting over .400. Antley and Mosbrucker are also tied for the team lead in RBIs, while Danielson and Sullivan lead in runs scored.

In addition to Havre, the other teams competing in Whitefish will be Glacier, Kalispell, Calgary, Scobey, Mission Valley, Lethbridge, Sidney and Olympia/Capital. The tournament starts today and runs through Sunday with the championship game scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Havre has six conference games at home next week, including a pair at home against the Great Falls Chargers.


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