Shaina's Challenge always a success


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre's Andy Smith takes swi8ng during a Shaina's Challenge fastpitch softball game this past weekend at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.

With baseball and softball finding its ground in Havre during the summertime, the community has been enjoying the entertainment and fun that the sports have brought. And there was a very special tournament that took place Saturday and Sunday at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field, which saw a fastpitch community come together to remember a special person, even working through bad weather to make it happen.

The Shaina's Challenge International Men's Fastpitch Tournament has hit its seventh year of existence, where the Havre fastpitch and baseball community remembers Shaina Evans, who lost her life in a tragic car accident, with a memorial tourney named after her. The tournament has been a staple in the Havre community for a long time and for the people who come to watch, the teams that participate in it and the organizers who work hard to put it all together, it's always a satisfying feeling when the tournament goes off without a hitch.

First up were the alumni games, with teams that have been associated with Havre fastpitch in the past facing off against each other. In the first game, the older alumni team Koefod Agency beat the younger alumni team Valley Furniture 11-10. Then the Havre High girls fastpitch softball team played against the collective alumni team, coming away with the win in the end.

The alumni games were a pleasure to see, and for the players and coaches who missed out on the chance to play in the spring, the games were a great way to feel like the spring had never been passed over. Havre head coach Tony Vigliotti, he was happy to see the alumni games give his team a chance to play like they would have in the spring.

"It feels good just to be out here and get the girls out here," Vigliotti said. "We missed our whole spring, so we got a lot of summer work in and this was just another little game for some of ours. Right now, we got girls playing basketball and volleyball, so we didn't have everybody here tonight. But the ones that were out here tonight got a chance to play. It just feels good to get out and play."

After the alumni games, the Shaina's Challenge Men's Fastpitch Tournament kicked off strong, with a matchup that pitted Master Sports against Gallery Lounge, with Gallery Lounge coming away with the win 10-2. A much closer game, where Tire-Rama and Havre Chiropractic faced off, was a lot closer, with Havre Chiropractic winning the slugfest 2-1.

In game three of the tournament, Havre Ford and Gallery Lounge took the field to show down, with Havre Ford winning big 12-1 to move forward on the winner's bracket. Game four started off the loser's bracket side of the tourney, where Master Sports and Tire-Rama battled, with Master Sports taking the win. That game was followed by a huge 10-minute storm, which soaked the field and put a temporary damper on the memorial tournament, but the fastpitch teams and tournament organizers came together to get things back up and running in about two hours, allowing the tournament to continue Saturday evening.

One of the tournament organizers, Danny Wirtzberger, was proud to see the Havre fastpitch community, the team and the organizers come put in hard work to get things going again.

"The good thing about Havre is that there's so many people who know what they're doing and how to get water off of the field to get it ready to play," Wirtzberger said. "You know, it really does take a village. It's not one person. It's not Patch and not me. It's one collective. That goes from the Missoula teams and the Havre teams. We had about 40 guys out there working to get the water off, so it's just a process, and there's no better people to get water off the field than Havre people."

From there, the men's games continued strong, with Tire-Rama pushing its way through the loser's bracket, beating Gallery Lounge 11-8 to get closer to the championship game. On the winner's bracket side, Havre Chiropractic and Havre Ford faced off, with Havre Ford once again putting up a dominant performance to beat Havre Chiropractic 10-1.

But Havre Chiropractic was not done yet, beating Tire-Rama in the loser's bracket final 9-1 to move into the championship game to try to get revenge against Havre Ford. Alas, Havre Ford put up another tough fight, claiming the tournament this year with a 7-3 win over Havre Chiropractic.

The tournament was a great success, especially considering the weather tried to stop it this year and Gary Evans, father of Shaina Evans, was glad to be out on the field this year to play, even if things felt different this year.

"I do very little for it," Evans said. "I put a team together. My nephews Danny and Patch do all the labor work and get everything organized. For me, it's just pulling an old-timer's team together and coming to play. It was different. The camaraderie of all the teammates and teams is great. It's a lot of fun to see all those guys. This year it's different for many reasons. It was fun, yet different."

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre's Payton Howard gets a cut in during the annual Havre High Alumni Softball Game last Friday night at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.


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