With the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of third, Joey Roberts remained calmed in the dugout. Belgrade’s first-year head coach opted not to make a trip to the circle.
Instead, it was catcher Talyn Campbell who took it upon herself to call a meeting with the entire infield. The senior helped settle things down and refocus the defense following a couple of tough breaks.
“(We) made an error and then they kind of had a base hit on a kind of a bloop bunt, kind of a right-handed slap bunt, and a couple things didn’t quite go our way,” Roberts explained. “Credit to Talyn for kind of getting the defense together and talking everybody down.”
It allowed Arin Eaton to regroup and she struck out Hailey Welsch and Chelsea Jensen to get out of the jam unscathed as the Panthers’ lead remained 4-0. Belgrade then added eight runs in the fifth en route to beating former Central A rival Fergus 12-0 Tuesday in Lewistown.
In addition to stretching their win streak to 45 games dating back to 2018, it was the first game for the Panthers in nearly two years after 2020 was canceled due to Covid.
“The girls were super excited to play,” said Roberts. “We were excited to watch them play and see them go out and compete.”
The Panthers scored an unearned run in the first and then made it 2-0 in the second when Shaylis Osler crossed home plate on a passed ball. Tayler Thomas stretched it 4-0 in the third when she drove in two runs with a triple.
But in the bottom half of the inning Fergus threatened to get back into the game after loading the bases. That’s when Eaton, who was making her first career varsity start in the circle, stepped up to the challenge.
“That kid, she’s just phenomenal. Her work ethic and her preparation is what’s kind of prepared her for moments like this,” said Roberts. “The preparation, the offseason work that she’s put in, she just leads by example. Situations like that, she’s clam, cool, collected and she executes.”
Eaton finished with nine strike outs, while allowing just five hits. The junior did not surrender a walk.
“Credit to Tayln Campbell,” said Roberts. “She called a plate meeting and was able to kind of settle everybody down and get the defense reset.”
The Panthers broke the game open in the fifth, tallying six of their 12 hits off Jessica Morgan in the frame. The senior, who struck out four in the contest, had thrown well up to that point.
“She’s an incredible pitcher, hits her spots well, throws hard,” said Roberts. “It was good for girls to see that and have to make those adjustments.”
Seniors Elizabeth Ybarra and Maddie Tomasetti each belted solo home runs in the frame, while Tayler Thomas added a triple and Kenna Thomas a double.
“That was our third or fourth time seeing her (through the lineup) and our lead off hitter Elizabeth, I believe she had two strikes on her, kind of had a two strike approach, and was able to hit an opposite field line drive home run,” said Roberts. “Maddie followed suit with another opposite field home run and I believe Tayler Thomas stepped in and hit a triple right after that.”
The Thomas cousins each finished 2 for 3 at the plate with three extra base hits. Tomasetti, Osler and Ybarra also finished with two hits.
Madison Affolder and Morgan combined for four of the Golden Eagles’ five hits.
Belgrade makes is home debut Thursday hosting Butte in a doubleheader.
“Made some mistakes we got to kind of clean up,” said Roberts. “I expect our girls to go out there focused, compete and keep fixing those mistakes and getting better every game heading into conference next week.”
Belgrade 12, Fergus 0
Belgrade 112 08 - 12 12 1
Fergus 000 00 - 0 5 3
Arin Eaton and Talyn Campbell. Jessica Morgan and Madison Affolder.
BELGRADE (1-0) - Kenna Thomas 2-3 (2B), Eaton 1-3, Elizabeth Ybarra 1-3 (HR), Maddie Tomasetti 2-3 (HR), Randi Widdcombe 0-1, Tayler Thomas 2-3 (2 3B), Shaylis Osler 2-3 (2B), Alexyss Settlemire 0-2, Campbell 0-2, Kamie Gorrell 1-3.
FERGUS (1-2) - Affolder 2-3, Morgan 2-2, Hailey Welsch 0-2, Chelsea Jensen 0-2, Shelby Sannar 0-2, Denton 0-3, Talkington 0-1, Riley Anderson 1-2, Anna Gremaux 0-1.