Havre Softball Clinches State Berth on Day 1 of Eastern ‘A’ Divisional Tournament

The Havre softball team came into the Eastern ‘A’ Divisional Tournament as the No. 1 seed out of the Northeastern side and went (1-1) on Friday to open play in Lewistown. In the first game against Park County, the Blue Ponies squeaked by with a (7-6) win, while the second game was a bonkers showing, coming up short against Laurel, (19-18) in eight innings.

Game one was a seesaw affair as Havre and Park kept jostling for the lead. The Blue Ponies struck first in the bottom of the second inning as center fielder Jersi Morse and pitcher Elle Verploegen each collected RBIs on a double and single, respectively. Park tied the game in the third inning as a result of an error and sacrifice fly. The luck wouldn’t stop there for the Rangers as they were able to score on another error in the next inning.

The game was taken into catcher Camille Keeley’s hands after that. She smashed her sixth home run of the season, a three-run shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Havre a (5-3) lead. Park would again answer, this time with a two-run homer to tie the game in the fifth inning. The bottom of the frame saw Morse pick up her second run batted in of the contest and then two batters later, a critical error in the field was made by the Rangers to score Morse.

The final two innings were intense for Verploegen in the circle as she surrendered another run in the sixth inning, getting out of the jam and then allowing two singles in the top of the seventh. Then with two outs, she intentionally walked a batter who had collected two hits off of her earlier in the contest. She was able to get the final batter of the game to pop out and cap off her outing with 13 punchouts in a wild finish, which was only the start of the rollercoaster the Blue Ponies would go on.

Havre got off to a great start against a rested Laurel team after the Locomotives took care of Dawson County in five innings earlier in the day. The Blue Ponies scored three runs in the first inning courtesy of a two-run single by second baseman Bree Hanson and an RBI single by left fielder Brenna Hanson. The lead was gone by the next half inning as the Locomotives got to Veroploegen seven times either on singles or walks.

Keeley got the third inning rolling for Havre, clubbing her second home run of the day to dead center and putting the Blue Ponies within a (7-4) tally. Havre kept rallying, eventually loading the bases for Morse, who smacked a grand slam, which was her third home run of the season. The Blue Ponies retook the lead, (8-7). Laurel again punched back in the bottom of the inning, matching the five runs and cushioning a (12-8) gap. Remarkably, this heavyweight fight continued and Havre put up a seven-spot in the fourth inning and it was (15-12) Blue Ponies.

After exchanging more runs, Bree Hanson tripled to put the game at (17-13). Laurel would have a charge in the sixth inning, scoring three more times to make it (17-16), but Morse extended the lead to (18-16) in the seventh on an RBI double, driving in her ninth run of the game. The Locomotives came back in the bottom of the seventh inning and tied the game at 18 and pushed across their 19th run to win it after Havre came up empty in the top of the frame.

With Havre playing for seeding purposes at the state tournament, the Ponies will play Fergus at 10am on Saturday in a loser-out scenario. The Blue Ponies and Golden Eagles split the regular season series with each winning a road game (Havre on Apr. 5, 14-3, and Fergus returning the favor, 5-4 on Apr. 30). If the Blue Ponies win that matchup, they will be in another loser-out game at 12pm.

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