Sunday, May 26, 2024
58.0°F

A walk-off, and a split

by JON ALLEN
Staff Writer | May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

Reese Conley ripped a line drive just fair down the first base line for a walk-off double as Flathead defeated Butte in game one of a doubleheader Tuesday in high school softball.

Conley’s heroics scored Ava Bessen — who tied the game with a ground ball to second scoring Kenzie Lake. Lake slid into home under the tag from Butte’s Gracie Ferriter.

“It kinda looked low, and lately low balls have been my favorite,” Conley said. “I thought it was going to hit foul, so as I ran to first and saw it land fair I was very happy.”

Butte (6-13, 4-9 in Western AA games) responded in game two taking the victory 3-2, putting Flathead’s state tournament hopes in serious jeopardy. 

While there are still many possibilities, including Flathead landing in a three-way tie for fifth — the top six Western AA teams qualify for state — winning both Tuesday games would have greatly improved the Bravettes chances.

“We fought to the very last pitch today in both games today, they were very big games with potential state tournament berth implications,” Bravettes coach Brittany WIlliams said. “One hit could have been the difference.”

Lacie Franklin went the distance in the circle both games for Flathead, allowing seven hits in game one and striking out two. In the second game she allowed nine hits and fanned one.

In game one, Flathead (5-13, 3-9 in Western AA games) jumped out in the first inning taking a 2-0 lead on a Conley groundout to the pitcher that saw Bessen score on the throw. Kaidyn Lake followed with an RBI single, scoring Olivia Nyman.

Flathead extended the lead in the second on a Kenzie Lake triple out to left field that scored Sawyer VanCampen.

Butte tied the game at three in the third inning, on a Mattie Stepan two-RBI single off of Franklin's foot that trickled into the outfield.

Stepan put Butte ahead in the fifth with an RBI double to left, bringing in Kamber Leary.

The game remained 4-3 until the seventh, when Kinsey Lake started the rally by reaching on an infield single. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Mackenzie Brandt. After Bessen scored Lake, Conley stepped in to give the Bravettes the win.

“Our at-bats got better as we went through the game and we started manufacturing runs,” said Williams. “We made things happen when they needed to.”

Game two started as a pitcher's duel as both sides combined for just one hit in the first two innings — an RBI single by Butte’s Taylor Drakos that put the Bulldogs ahead.

The Bulldogs extended the lead in the third as Ashby Lee and Stepan drove in one run apiece.

Flathead answered in the fourth with Laynee Vessar driving in two runs on a single to center field.

Butte’s pitching proved to be too much down the stretch though as the starter Leary went four innings, with five strikeouts, and Mullaney finished up. .

Mullaney threw a complete game in the opener, striking out seven. She fanned one in game two.

“I was really proud of how we came out (for game two), we played great defense all day and took care of the ball,” Williams said. “It took us a little longer to get going at the plate, but once they saw her (Leary) once, they did a great job of adjusting.”



Game 1

Butte    003    010    0    -    4    7    2

Flathead    210    000    2    -    5    6    0

Ashlinn Mullaney and Gracie Ferriter. Lacie Franklin and Laynee Vessar. 

BUTTE — Ferriter 1-3, Mullaney 1-4, Kamber Leary 0-3, Madisyn Swanson 0-3, Mattie Stepan 2-3, Ashby Lee 1-3, Gracie Jonart 0-2, Hailey Skeel 0-1, Taylor Drakos 2-3, Dacelyn Lafond 0-1. 

FLATHEAD — Mackenzie Brandt 0-3, Ava Bessen 1-4, Olivia Nyman 0-2, Reese Conley 1-4, Kaidyn Lake 1-3, Tegan Strauss 0-3, Vessar 1-2, Sawyer Van Campen 1-3, Kinsey Lake 1-3.

2B — Stephan, Conley. 3B — Ki.Lake. RBIs — Stepan 3, Mullaney, Conley 2, Ka.Lake, Ki.Lake. 


Game 2

Flathead    000    200    0    -    2    5    0

Butte    012    000    x    -    3    9    0

Franklin and Vessar. Leary and Ferriter. 

FLATHEAD — Brandt 0-3, Bessen 1-2, Nyman 0-2, Conley 2-3, Ka.Lake 1-3, Vessar 1-3, Strauss 0-3, Van Campen 0-3, Ki.Lake 0-3. 

BUTTE — Ferriter 1-4, Mullaney 1-2, Leary 2-3, Swanson 0-3, Stepan 0-3, Lee 2-2, Barsness 1-1, Jonart 1-2, Drakos 1-2, SKeel 0-1, LaFonda 0-1. 

RBIs —  Vessar 2, Lee 2. 


Western AA Standings

           Conf.    Overall

                 W-L    W-L

Big Sky    12-1    18-1

Glacier    11-2    16-3

Capital    11-2    15-4

Sentinel    5-7    7-11

Helena    4-8    7-11

Butte    4-9    6-13    

Flathead    3-9    5-13

Hellgate    0-12    1-18

Tuesday’s Games

Flathead 5, Butte 4

Butte 3, Flathead 2

Missoula Big Sky 7, Helena 6

Helena Capital 17, Missoula Sentinel 4

Thursday’s Games

Glacier at Flathead (KidSport), 5 p.m.

Missoula Big Sky at Helena Capital

Missoula Sentinel at Helena

Friday’s Games

Missoula Hellgate at Flathead (KidSport), 5 p.m.

Saturday’s Games

Missoula Sentinel at Missoula Hellgate

Butte at Helena

End of regular season

Flathead's Ava Bessen (4) slides into home ahead of the tag in the first inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Casey Kreider
Flathead's Ava Bessen (4) slides into home ahead of the tag in the first inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Casey Kreider
    Flathead pitcher Lacie Franklin (22) delivers in the first inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Flathead's Kinsey Lake (9) gets a high-five from teammate Olivia Nyman (16) after Lake scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Flathead third baseman Kaidyn Lake (10) snares a hard-hit grounder and gets the force-out at second base in the first inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 


    Flathead catcher Laynee Vessar (12) tags out a Butte runner trying to score at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Flathead's Ava Bessen (4) drives in Kinsey Lake (9) from third to tie the game up in the bottom of the seventh against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
Flathead's Kinsey Lake (9) slides into home ahead of the tag to score the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Casey Kreider
    Flathead's Sawyer VanCampen (31) connects on a single against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Flathead's Kinsey Lake (9) drives a triple into the opposite field in the second inning against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Flathead's Laynee Vessar (12) connects on a single against Butte at Kidsports Complex on Tuesday, May 14. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider