BROWNING — Belgrade High School’s softball team bounced back from its first loss of the season in a big way over the weekend. The Panthers tallied 85 runs in four games, while allowing just three, en route to a pair of Central A doubleheader victories.
Friday, Belgrade shut out Havre 24-0 and 16-0. Then on Saturday, the Panthers beat winless Browning 27-2 and 18-1.
With the wins, Belgrade improved to 5-0 in league play and extended its conference winning streak to 27 games dating back to the 2009 campaign. The program has won 53 of its past 54 league games dating back to 2007.
“Four conference wins. We only have three (league) games left,” first-year Belgrade coach Justin Taylor said. “We’re sitting 5-0 in the conference. Hopefully we can keep that up.”
In the first game against Havre, Belgrade (7-1) shot out to a 9-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. The Blue Ponies were only able to notch one hit in the contest, a bunt single in the bottom of the first, and committed nine errors.
“We were up 9-0 after the first inning of the first game. Takes a little pressure off you,” said Taylor.
The victory was highlighted by Ali Alstrom’s three-run home run over the center field fence in the top of the third that made it 18-0. The sophomore finished the game 4-for-4, which includes a double and two singles.
“She hit well,” said Taylor.
Senior Morgan Wandler was 4-for-5 from the plate, while Taylor Hill and Kristina West added three hits each.
Defensively, senior Justine Taylor tossed a 1-hitter and struck out five before being relieved in the circle by Maddie Cade. The freshman earned the save in her first-ever varsity game.
Game two mirrored the opener with Belgrade jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first inning, and leading 12-0 after two innings. West tossed her first-career no-hitter in the circle and struck out a season-high eight batters.
“We kept them pretty off balanced,” said coach Taylor. “Justine only walked one, and Kristina walked two. And Kristina and Maddie both hit one. But it was pretty smooth sailing. We hit the ball real well.”
After tallying a season-high 22 hits in opener, the Panthers had 10 in the nightcap. Taylor Johnson and Wandler led the charge, each tallying two hits. Havre committed nine more errors in the game, and Rachel Majeres picked up the loss in the circle.
The quick starts continue on Saturday as Belgrade scored six runs in the top of the first inning in the first game against Browning, then tallied 10 runs to start the second game.
The Panthers boasted 20 hits against Browning, which included a 4-for-6 performance by Johnson. Sophomore Autumn Rollins celebrated her 16th birthday by going 3-for-4 with a double, and Johnson and Hill added triples.
Justine Taylor earned the win in the circle to improve to 4-0 this season, while Hannah Goulet picked up the save. The freshman allowed just one hit in three innings of relief work in her first-ever varsity action.
West threw two inning of no-hit ball in the second game before Cade came in to pitch the final three innings. She allowed just one hit, walked four and struck out five en route to the save.
At the plate, West was 3-for-3 with a triple, while sophomore Rylee Cygan was 3-for-4. Wandler added a double.
Catcher/first baseman Annie Prickett sat out both contests to rest a sore hip flexer, while fellow seniors Justine Taylor and Wandler played just two innings in both games.
“Got the young girls a lot of playing time,” noted coach Taylor. “We were missing six girls due to music festival otherwise we really would have got some girls playing time.”
While the twinbill was highlighted by outstanding pitching and hot bats, coach Taylor also noted a defensive play the Panthers turned in the opener.
“We actually turned a triple play, although there was one out. But we perfectly executed the triple play,” he explained. “There was a ball hit to left field. Autumn Rollins threw to second to get the girl doubled up at second, and Kristina threw to first to get the girl who had come off of first. It looked pretty darn sweet although it only counted as a double play because there was one out.”
Belgrade returns to action today with a game against Class AA Helena High. Thursday the Panthers will host Fergus County High School in a league game. Both contests are slated to start at 4 p.m.
“They’re (Helena) coming in the same scenario as Butte High and Billings (Skyview) did. I don’t know that they’ve been beat,” said coach Taylor. “We’re catching another hot double A team, so it’ll be a very strong test for us.”
Belgrade 18, Browning 1
Browning 0 01 00 - 1 1 6
Belgrade (10)23 3x - 18 14 2
Ashton Smith and Shelsey St. Goddard. Kristina West, Madison Cade (3) and Taylor Hill, Taylor Salsbury (3). W - West (3-1). L - Smith. S - Cade (2).
BROWNING (0-5) - Smith 1-3, Dusti Boyce 0-3, Whitney Bremmer 0-2, Kim Higgins 0-2, St. Goddard 0-1, Jessica Horn 0-2, Jessica MaGee 0-1, Treyanna Belcourt 0-1, Hillary Omeasoo 0-1.
BELGRADE (7-1) - Justine Taylor 0-0, West 3-3 (3B), Morgan Wandler 1-2 (2B), Taylor Johnson 1-2, Hill 0-4, Ali Alstrom 0-3, Autumn Rollins 2-4, Rylee Cygan 3-4, Rachel Salsbury 1-3, Taylor Salsbury 2-3, Hannah Goulet 1-2.
Belgrade 27, Browning 2
Belgrade 642 96 - 27 20 1
Browning 000 11 - 2 1 12
Justine Taylor, Hannah Goulet (3) and Taylor Hill, Rylee Cygan (3). Ashton Smith, Kim Higgins (4) and Shelsey St. Goddard. W - Taylor (4-0). L - Smith. S - Goulet (1).
BELGRADE (6-1) - Taylor 3-3 (2B), West 1-2, Wandler 1-3, Johnson 4-6 (3B), Hill 2-4 (3B), Alstrom 1-4, Rollins 3-4 (2B), Cygan 1-5, R. Salsbury 1-3, Goulet 0-2, Cade 2-3, T. Salsbury 1-2.
BROWNING (0-4) - Ashton Smith 1-2, Dusti Boyce 0-3, Whitney Bremmer 0-1, Kim Higgins 0-3, Shelsey St. Goddard 0-1, Jessica Horn 0-1, Jessica MaGee 0-2, Treyanna Belcourt 0-2, Aubri Hannon 0-1.
Belgrade 16, Havre 0
Belgrade 662 20 - 16 10 0
Havre 000 00 - 0 0 9
Rachel Majeres and Mary Lyons. West and Hill. W - West (2-1). L - Majeres.
HAVRE (1-5) - Michaela Boles 0-2, Harlee Boucher 0-2, Davee McLeod 0-2, Lyons 0-2, Lauren Britt 0-0, Paige Henderson 0-1, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 0-1, Lexi Olson 0-1, Clarissa Martin 0-2, Masha Barnekoff 0-1.
BELGRADE (5-1) - Taylor 1-3, T. Salsbury 0-1, West 1-4, Wandler 2-4, Johnson 2-3, Hill 1-3, Alstrom 1-3, Rollins 1-2, Marina Layman 0-2, R. Salsbury 0-1, Annie Prickett 1-3.
Belgrade 24, Havre 0
Belgrade 967 20 - 24 22 0
Havre 000 00 - 0 1 9
Taylor, Cade (5) and Prickett and Cygan. McLeod and Lyons. W - Taylor (3-0). L - McLeod. S - Cade (1).
BELGRADE (4-1) - Taylor 2-5, West 3-4, Wandler 4-5, Johnson 0-4, T. Salsbury 0-1, Hill 3-5, Prickett 1-4, Cygan 1-1, Alstrom 4-4 (2B, HR), Goulet 0-1, Rollins 2-2 (2B), R. Salsbury 0-2, Layman 2-4.
HAVRE (1-4) - Boles 0-2, Boucher 1-2, McLeod 0-2, Lyons 0-2, Henderson 0-2, Mazurkiewicz 0-1, Olson 0-2, Martin 0-2, Sydne Huston 0-1.