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Ponies look to use home field advantage

Northeast A Divisional moved up two days at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field


Last updated 5/18/2021 at 8:04am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High's Avery Carlson catches a fly ball against Miles City earlier this month. The Blue Ponies play Miles City in the first round of the Northeast A Divisional tournament today in Havre. The Sixth Avenue Memorial Field is host to the divisional tourney today and Wednesday, as it was moved up due to impending bad weather.

After a long road trip to end the regular season, the Havre High softball team finally returns home to begin the Northeast A Divisional tournament today at Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.

The Blue Ponies finished the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, so HHS head coach Tony Vigliotti believes they are prepared for a postseason run.

"I think we're ready. Right now, we're playing well coming off the tough road trip last week," Vigliotti said. "We're playing well and we're where we need to be."

The Ponies are undefeated at Sixth Avenue Memorial Field this season, giving them homefield advantage that could aid them in a quest for a divisional title.

"It will be huge. It's confidence for us," Vigliotti said. "We have a lot of confidence playing at home. We like playing at home. We like playing in front of our crowd."

The divisional tournament was originally supposed to be held this Friday and Saturday but a forecast of rain forced them to move the schedule to Tuesday and Wednesday. With this schedule change, the Ponies will now only have had a two-day break between the regular season and postseason rather than the originally planned six days. However, Vigliotti believes it will not affect his players too much.

"Players are excited to play so they're ready to go," Vigliotti said. "Everybody's in the same boat. Probably thought they had about four days to prepare but it is what it is."

The Ponies will open their postseason against Miles City today at 2:30 p.m. With the advantage of being the tournament's No. 2 seed, Havre will advance directly to the championship game with a win over the Cowgirls.

Havre swept the season series against Miles City with a 8-0 win and 23-0 win in a doubleheader earlier this month. Miles City finished the season 5-10 and earned the tournament's no. 3 seed with a 4-4 conference record. While the Cowgirls have some bright spots on their team, Vigliotti believes the ponies should win if they execute.

"Their pitcher is not bad. They got a couple girls that can hit pretty well," Vigliotti said. "For us, though, really, it's taking care of what we do and going out and playing hard and doing what we do."

The Ponies look to have another strong day at the plate against the Cowgirls. Quinn McDonald will hope to add to her team-leading 28 RBIs this season. She also leads the team with .517 batting average. Alyssa Oliver has made an impact for Havre lately as she has led the team with 11 RBIs and a .619 batting average in the month of May.

While the Ponies' offense has been successful in their conference games all season long, they only scored three runs in their victory last weekend against Sidney to end the regular season. However, Vigliotti is not worried because he believes the offense came out slow because of their long road trip last week.

"I think we're fine. I like where we're at," Vigliotti said. "We put about 1,600 miles on last week in the Blue Pony Express and I think on Saturday we were a little tired, a little slow but they battled."

If the Ponies' offense stalls out, they will need their pitching staff to step up. Against Miles City, Havre will turn to their leading pitcher Lexi Haney, who has a record of 9-2-1 this season. On the season, she has a 1.83 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 11 walks allowed.

If the Cowgirls are going to score a run this year against the Ponies, they will need more production from their lineup. Brynn Notbohm leads Miles City with a .419 batting average and has 12 RBIs on the year. Miles City also has Ruby Kuester, who has a .381 batting average and 10 RBIs.

If the Ponies advance to the championship game Wednesday, they will most likely face No. 1 seed Lewistown. Even though the Golden Eagles tied Havre with a 7-1 conference record, they won the regular season divisional title over Havre because of scoring differentials in head-to-head matchups.

Havre and Lewistown split the season series with the home team winning. After losing 3-1 on the road at Lewistown, the Ponies defeated them, 4-3, in a walkoff victory on their senior night. With the divisional tournament held in Havre, the Ponies should be optimistic about maintaining their homefield advantage.

Lewistown has several batters who could lead them to a divisional title. Jessica Morgan leads the team with a .486 batting average and has 33 RBIs this season. The Eagles also have Madison Affolder who has a .459 batting average and 22 RBIs.

If Lewistown does not make it to the championship game, they would have been upset by either Glendive or Sidney. Both teams finished 1-7 in conference and failed to defeat Lewistown during the regular season.

Glendive and Sidney opened the tournament today for the chance to advance and play Lewistown that night. The teams split the season series with the home team coming out victorious both times. With the game on a neutral field, neither team could rely on homefield advantage.

Glendive's offense will be led by Molly Eaton, who leads the team with a .464 batting average. However, she will need her teammates to get on base as she only has three RBIs on the season.

Sidney has a couple players on offense that could aid them in victory. Sophie Peters leads the Eagles with a .452 batting average and has 10 RBIs on the season. Taylan Hanson leads Sidney with 15 RBIs this season and has a .438 batting average.

The Ponies look poised to make it to the divisional championship, which would clinch them a spot in the state tournament next week. However, if they want to win a divisional title, they just need to stick to what they have been doing all season.

"We just need to do what we do and that's pitch well," Vigliotti said. "We have to put the ball in play. We have to run the bases correctly. Stay away from mental errors that can cost you big innings."

The HHS softball team will begin postseason play against Miles City today at 2:30 p.m. at Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.


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