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In what is a highly anticipated week of baseball, the Havre Northstars finally open their season tonight at home


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Quinn Reno and the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club have waited a long time to get their season started. Tonight, though, the wait is over as the Northstars host the Lewistown Redbirds at Legion Field in their season debut.

The 2020 season is right around the corner and the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club is ready to take the field. The season has been long-awaited for the team and fans, who have pushed through the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic to be able to play baseball this summer.

As a bonus, the season will start off with a series of home-games for the Northstars.

Legion Field will be bustling this week, as the home and season opener for Havre starts tonight against the Lewistown Redbirds at 5 p.m. in a doubleheader showdown. Then, Saturday will see a game against the Glendive Blue Devils at 5:30 p.m., followed by a bout versus the Gallatin Valley Outlaws at 8 p.m. To finish up the week, Havre will take on Glendive again at 9 a.m. and the Miles City Mavericks at 4:30 p.m., with all games at Legion Field.

The Northstars will have a lot of experience on their side, especially in seniors Quinn Reno and Tyrel Kjersem. Reno had a big year for Havre last season and looks to keep up on his game. In Kjersem's case, he has been a solid pitcher on the mound and an improved player at the plate and has the ability to adapt to multiple positions on the field, which will make him a big contributor to the Northstars ambitions to open the season.

Junior Carson Lunak is poised to do great things on the pitching mound this season, as well, helping strengthen the rotation throughout the game, while sophomore Trenton Maloughney has a lot of promise to pick up right where he left off in his outstanding season as a newcomer for Havre.

As for the Northstars' opponents, the first game of the season will be against Lewistown, a team that has put up excellent bouts against Havre in the past. The Redbirds will bring back a good chunk of talent, as well as a versatile playstyle. On top of that, Lewistown will be a doubleheader Tuesday evening, which will make the game even tougher for the Northstars.

The Redbirds will be a big doubleheader to start off the season and Wirtzberger is looking forward to it.

"I think they only lost two kids from the team last year that went to state," Wirtzberger said. "I know they have got some experience coming back. They'll have solid pitching on the mound, great fielders, they'll hit the ball, so we're going to have to make plays, keep the ball in the strike zone and do our part to try and stay with them."

After the doubleheader, the Northstars will have some time off before they take on Glendive. The Blue Devils are a team that brings great coaching and talent to the field. Glendive has been in the running as an excellent team in recent years, too, making them another strong challenge for Havre in their opening week.

It has been some time since the Northstars have played the Blue Devils, but Wirtzberger knows that Glendive has great guidance on its side.

"Glendive is a team that we haven't played in a few years," Wirtzberger said. "I don't know much about them, but I know their head coach. They're going to be a well-coached bunch and are going to have some experienced ball-players out there, so I know they're going to be a nice team."

Havre will then immediately take the field once again to face off against Gallatin Valley. The Outlaws have been a strong club that has constantly been in the elite standings throughout the years, often making some noise in the Class A state tournament, as well. After taking on a tough Glendive team, the Northstars will have to be ready to get right back into the fray against another top-tier club.

The Outlaws will pose another strong challenge for Havre and Wirtzberger is excited for the game.

"We played Gallatin Valley last year," Wirtzberger said. "I know they graduated a lot of kids from last year, but they're still going to have some experience coming back, along with a great head coach that's going to keep them on a roll. They're always in the race for the state championship, so I'm excited to see how we stack up against their team."

Then on Sunday, Havre will be back on the field in the morning for a rematch against the Blue Devils. After that, Miles City will jump into action and look to give the Northstars another first-time battle in 2020. The Mavericks are a familiar team for the Northstars, as well, as they took each other on in 2019. This time around, Havre and Miles City both have aims to give it their all, with both teams finding similarities in their budding youth on the sqauds.

The Mavericks are another team that the Northstars competed against last year and Wirtzberger is glad another tough club will be up to the plate this early in the season.

"We played Miles City last year," Wirtzberger said. "They have a good mix of youth experience and a deep roster, so I think that'll be another great game for us. It's good to see all these experienced teams to give some good experience to our guys to start off the year."

With so many home games at Legion Field, the Northstars are in for one long, exciting week at home. Lewistown, Glendive, Gallatin Valley and Miles City are all lined up and ready to take on Havre, with the aim of upsetting the Northstars on their home field. With all that intense action up at Legion Field, there is hope that fans will be able to experience the lengthy start at home this early in the season.

And with Montana going into Phase II per Gov. Steve Bullock's re-opening procedures, as well as the agreed plan per Montana Legion and the Hill County Health Board, the Northstars are able to operate at 50 percent capacity for their games, which means fans will be able to see Havre in action for the 2020 season. Of course, social distancing guidelines will still be encouraged and procedures will still be in place to help try to prevent the speard of the coronavirus..

With Phase II initiated in Montana, Wirtzberger further detailed the safety guidelines and restrictions when it comes to attending the games at Legion Field.

"We'll be operating at 50 percent of our capacity for the stadium," Wirtzberger said. "I think our capacity stands at right around 500, so it'll be limited to about 250. There will be a limit to no more than six people at a picnic table and we'll be encouraging everybody to try and follow the social distancing guidelines to stay 6 feet apart if you're not within a family setting. The concession stands will be operating like a take-out restaurant. We will have markings and signage all around the field to try and help people out."

With that, the Northstars have a big opening week ahead of them. Their home and season-opener will be a doubleheader against the Lewistown Redbirds today at 5 p.m. at Legion Field. Then, Saturday will see Havre take on the Glendive Blue Devils at 5:30 p.m. and the Gallatin Valley Outlaws at 8 p.m. at Legion Field, while wrapping up Sunday against the Blue Devils at 9 a.m. and the Miles City Mavericks at 4:30 p.m. at Legion Field.

There is a lot in store for the Northstars and they look to start off the season strong at home for the 2020 season.


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