Blue Pony softball falls short at state tournament
Last updated 5/31/2022 at 7:47am
The Havre High softball team has had a year to remember. After going undefeated in conference play in the regular season, the Blue Ponies won the first Northeast A Divisional title in school history. This past weekend in Hamilton, the Ponies ended the season as they competed in the Class A State Softball Tournament.
However, things did not break the Ponies’ way. After opening the tournament with a 6-0 win over Butte Central, the Ponies lost back-to-back games to Frenchtown and Polson to end their season. While the season came to a disappointing end, HHS head coach Tony Vigliotti believes the Ponies represented the Hi-Line well over the weekend.
“Overall I thought we played well,” Vigliotti said. “I thought we played well against Butte Central … and then we ran into a couple of really good teams.”
The Ponies started the tournament Thursday night with a 6-0 win over Butte Central. The Ponies got it started early in the bottom of the first. After Lizzi Haney was walked early in the inning, Molly Huse hit a single to center field to bring her home for the 1-0 lead.
The Ponies continued to roll in the bottom of the third. After a walk to start the inning, Alyssa Oliver hit a single to right field to bring in the runner. Huse then got Oliver home with an RBI triple and then Huse scored on an RBI single from Hannah Gingery to push the lead to 4-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, Havre added onto the lead. After two runners got on base to start the inning, Jersi Morse hit a double to left field to drive in a run. Gingery then scored on a defensive error to give Havre a 6-0 lead.
Despite some hits in the top of the seventh, the Ponies recorded three outs to secure the shutout win. Elle Verploegen pitched all seven innings for the Ponies where she allowed five hits and two walks while recording five strikeouts.
“She was great. She hit her spots well, she changed speeds well and she kept the hitters off balance,” Vigliotti said about Verploegen’s performance. “That’s what she’s done the last month of the season so we expected her to pitch well and she did.”
Huse had a great game for the Ponies as she went 2-for-2 at the plate and led the team with two RBIs. But the Ponies could not keep up their offensive production in their 15-1 loss to Frenchtown Friday afternoon.
Frenchtown jumped on the Ponies early in the top of the first. After a walk to open the game, Sadie Smith hit a triple to right field to bring in the run for the lead. She later scored on a passed ball to give Frenchtown a 2-0 lead. A Havre error then allowed another runner to score to further push the lead.
Over the next few innings, Frenchtown continued to pull away. In the top of the second, a wild pitch allowed another Frenchtown runner to score. In the top of the third, a sacrifice fly from Olivia Campbell added another run on the scoreboard. Carah Evans then pushed the lead to 6-0 with an RBI single to right field.
Frenchtown took full control in the top of the third. After loading the bases with no walks, Parker Robinson hit a double to left field to clear the bases. Three straight singles from Frenchtown brought in another run to push the lead to 10-0. Even with a couple groundouts, a pair of Frenchtown runners scored on the plays. Another RBI single and an RBI groundout then pushed the lead to 14-0.
Frenchtown scored another run in the top of the fifth to add to the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Avery Carlson scored on an error to get Havre on the board. But Frenchtown recorded a third out to win the game in five innings.
As a team, the Ponies only managed to record four hits in the game. Vigliotti credited Frenchtown’s Smith, who pitched the first three innings of the game and only allowed three hits and no runs.
“Their pitcher is very good. She changed her speeds well and hit her spots,” Vigliotti said. “We just never got on track offensively and that was mostly due to her.”
Later Friday, the Ponies’ season came to an end with a 12-4 loss to Polson. Just like the previous game, the Ponies fell behind early in the top of the first. After the first two runners got on base to start the game, three straight hits by Polson drove in three runs for the early lead.
But the Ponies tried to claw their way back in the bottom of the second. After Huse started the inning with a single, Camille Keeley brought her home with an RBI double. Morse then hit an RBI double to cut the deficit to 3-2.
However, Polson responded in the top of the fifth with a solo home run. After an RBI single to add another run, a grand slam further pushed Polson’s lead to 9-2. After Havre scored a run in the bottom of the sixth, Polson continued to roll in the top of the seventh to push the lead to 12-3. After starting the weekend with a shutout, Vigliotti believes Frenchtown and Polson were able to get on a roll because of their talent.
“They just got good programs,” Vigliotti said. “Those lineups are stacked and full of good hitters.”
In the bottom of the seventh, an RBI single from Carlson cut the lead to 12-4. But a groundout ended the game and ended the season for the Ponies. At the plate, Carslon went 2-for-4 for the Ponies and Morse went 2-for-3.
The Ponies end the season with a 15-9-1 record. While the season ended with a pair of tough losses, the Ponies had a great year. They went 8-0 in conference play and won the first divisional title in program history. Even though the Ponies lose seniors such as Oliver and Keylee Kline, Vigliotti believes the Ponies can build off this year.
“When you sit back and look at it, it was a great season for us,” Vigliotti said. “We put the first trophy in the trophy case as far as Havre High softball goes. So I think our program took a step forward and there’s lots to look forward to.”
Havre 6, Butte Central 0
BC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 5 2
HAV 1 0 3 0 0 2 X - 6 6 1
WP - Elle Verploegen
LP - S. Thatcher
Havre Batting - Avery Carlson 0-3, Lizzi Haney 0-2, Alyssa Oliver 1-3, Molly Huse 2-2, Hannah Gingery 1-3, Camille Keeley 1-3, Jersi Morse 1-3, Keylee Kline 0-3, Danni Wirtzberger 0-3.
Frenchtown 15, Havre 1
FRE 3 1 2 8 1 X X - 15 12 4
HAV 0 0 0 0 1 X X - 1 4 3
WP - Sadie Smith
LP - Elle Verploegen
Havre Batting - Avery Carlson 2-3, Lizzi Haney 0-3, Alyssa Oliver 1-3, Molly Huse 0-3, Hannah Gingery 1-2, Camille Keeley 0-1, Jersi Morse 0-2, Keylee Kline 0-2, Danni Wirtzberger 0-2.
Polson 12, Havre 4
POL 3 0 0 0 6 0 3 - 12 12 0
HAV 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 - 4 8 0
WP - K. Druyverstien
LP - Elle Verploegen
Havre Batting - Avery Carlson 2-4, Lizzi Haney 1-4, Alyssa Oliver 0-3, Molly Huse 1-3, Hannah Gingery 0-2, Camry Oliver 0-1, Camille Keeley 1-3, Jersi Morse 2-3, Keylee Kline 0-3, Danni Wirtzberger 1-3.