Fergus battles Belgrade in conference play

Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Gracia Butcher prepares to swing at a pitch against the Lady Panthers in Belgrade on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles fell to the undefeated Lady Panthers, 6-0, for their first conference loss of the season.
Photo courtesy of Dan Chesnet/Belgrade News

The Golden Eagle softball team found out the Belgrade team was as good as its record indicated when the two Central A teams battled for first place on Tuesday. The game was played in Belgrade and the Lady Panthers came away with a 6-0 win.
“Belgrade is undefeated for a reason,” said Fergus Coach Mike Mangold. “Even more impressive is some of those wins have come against Class AA teams. If we were going to slay Goliath we would need to play flawless defense, and we were close. We made some nice heads-up plays and except for a couple of communication errors, we played our best defensive game of the season. Our outfielders made some good reads on some well hit balls. That needs to continue this season.
The Lady Panthers scored the only run they would need in the bottom of the first inning – a home run from Neubauer. Belgrade pitchers Neubauer and Elgas shut out the Golden Eagles over seven innings by allowing only three hits off the Fergus bats. Two of the hits for Fergus came from outfielder Ade Lensing, both singles. One hit came in the top of the second inning and the other one was in the top of the fifth inning. Fergus’s other hit came from Kinsey Irvin, a single in the top of the seventh.
“We had our backs against the wall a few times, and our infield made sure nothing got through to get some important outs and leave their runners stranded,” said Mangold about the Fergus defense.
“Belgrade is a good hitting team, and they hit some balls hard in the first three innings,” added Mangold. “After that we adjusted our pitch sequences to counter, and Carley (Carpenter) did a great job keeping these bats at bay for the rest of the game. Each game out, Carley has gotten better and is getting ahead in the count more often. Even though they had 10 hits, about six were bunt hits or bleeders that found a hole. Don’t get me wrong though, they can stick the ball.”
Weather permitting, the Golden Eagles should get in some solid games this weekend. On Friday, Fergus was in Frenchtown for an invitational tournament. From there, the team is supposed to travel to Browning for two conference games against the Lady Indians today (Saturday).
Monday Fergus hosts Billings Central in a non-conference game. The junior varsity game has been canceled, so the varsity contest begins at 5 p.m. Thursday Fergus travels to Havre for a make-up conference game. The junior varsity contest is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., followed by the varsity contest at 4 p.m.



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