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Murphy and McKay continue to team up

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Trey Murphy, pictured above playing first base, is in his final season of playing American Legion baseball for the Havre Northstars. He and Kennedy McKay are hoping to add to the Class A state doubles title they won by finishing strong on the diamond.

Winning a state championship, regardless of the sport, is a special experience and it's one that Trey Murphy and Kennedy McKay will remember for the rest of their lives.

However, when the two Havre High tennis players won the Class A state doubles championship back in May, they didn't get much time to sit back and enjoy their achievement. Instead, they went to work in another sport, as both double up in the spring, playing baseball, along with tennis.

"I kind of enjoy it," Murphy said. "Because you are always competing. You go from a state championship mindset, when you are trying to win tennis matches, and then try to come out here and try to have a successful baseball program. You are always competing and that is what I have always enjoyed about playing both sports. But it's a logjam for a while."

Even though tennis starts a little before baseball, there is a good chunk of the season where the two sports overlap. That can mean multiple practices and having events in different places on the same days.

"It's really competitive," McKay said. "But I really like the competitive attitude. Winning state was fun but you have to transfer into the next sport. I will always remember winning state, that will probably be my best memory from high school. I don't know if anything will top that, but I still want to come out and give it my all in baseball, too. That's all I can really do."

Playing more than one sport can be difficult, especially if you have a desire to be great in both. However, Murphy and McKay have been able to strike that balance the past few years.

"You have to sleep when you can," Murphy said jokingly.

"You always want to put that extra work in to the sport that you are playing, the one you started first," McKay said. "So tennis was on and we were devoted to tennis and then baseball started. It was hard to give up that devotion after winning a state title. But you just devote yourself again and just keep trying to give it your all. It does make you tired, though."

For Murphy, playing sports all the time is nothing new. While it's rare nowadays to see three-star athletes, Murphy, who also played football and basketball at Havre High, is a four-star athlete. For the Northstars, Murphy has proven valuable because of his bat and his versatility. During his career, he has played first base, second base and third base and pitched. This season, he is also hitting .320 at the plate and getting on base at a .433 clip, which is fifth-best on the team.

Like Murphy, McKay has also been a versatile threat for the Northstars, seeing time at shortstop, second base, pitcher and even catching. On the mound, McKay has been a reliable starter, especially in 2018, winning all three of his starts this season. He also an ERA of 5.03, which is third on the team among pitchers who have appeared for at least 10 innings. And even though he is currently fourth on the team when it comes to innings pitched, McKay leads Havre with 29 strikeouts or 1.52 strikeouts per inning.

At the plate, McKay has also been solid. For the season, he is batting .356 and also boasts an on-base percentage of .491, which is third on the team. His play in the field has also been stellar, as he leads in the team in double plays with five and also ranks sixth on the Northstars in fielding percentage at just over 91 percent.

Both players have had their moments in what has been an up-and-down season for the Northstars. Havre opened by winning eight of its first 12 district games, but after losing eight of its last 12, Havre finds itself sitting at 12-12 in the Northern A District with two weeks and four games to go. Overall, the Northstars are 19-19-1.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Kennedy McKay makes contact with the ball and runs towards first for the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball team. McKay, a state champion in Class A doubles, is playing what could be his final season for the Northstars.

Yet, the Northern A is much more wide open than in year's past. Lewistown looks like one of the teams to beat; Vauxhall is another. But Lewistown remains the only team the Northstars have yet to beat and with at least one win against the other six clubs, there is reason for optimism with the district tournament right around the corner.

For Murphy and McKay, who have been part of just one victory at the district tournament in four years, success in the postseason is the next goal on the horizon.

"It's always the goal to try and win state," Murphy said. "We want to go out and compete and represent Havre the best that we can when we go to districts."

McKay also said he is looking forward to one last shot at districts, even though he hinted at possibly coming back to play next season for the Northstars, which he would be eligible to do.

"I am just going to give it my all," McKay said. "That's the only thing you can do is give it everything you can."

 

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