Redbirds head into district tournament as top seed

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

By DOREEN HEINTZ
Sports Editor

Although the Vauxhall Spurs actually finished the conference season with a better winning percentage than Lewistown’s American Legion team, the Redbirds were awarded the top seed heading into the Northern District Tournament. The Spurs winning percentage was 0.731 (19-7), while the Redbirds finished with a 0.714 (20-8) winning percentage.
“Vauxhall and Havre decided not to play their last two conference games and so seeds were determined by wins, giving us the number one seed,” said Lewistown Coach Scott Sparks. “I think the district tournament is wide open and with only one spot available for state, it’s going to be intense.”
A look at last week’s conference games seem to bear that out. After Vauxhall defeated Lewistown twice last Wednesday, the Spurs traveled to Great Falls on Thursday to take on the Chargers A team, and lost both contests. On Sunday, Great Falls defeated Lethbridge twice. Earlier in the week, Lethbridge had been tied with Vauxhall for the conference lead.
On Saturday, Great Falls and Fort Macleod split a double header, and Lethbridge and Medicine Hat also split their doubleheader. Last Thursday, Medicine Hat split a doubleheader with Havre.
The reason only one spot is available in the northern district is that Great Falls, as sponsor of the State A Tournament, which will also be at Centene Stadium, gets one of the two northern bids.
“Vauxhall swings the ball so well that they have to be considered the favorite,” said Sparks. “All of the Canadian teams are solid. Great Falls has been hot lately, and Tri-County has three great arms that can beat anyone on a given day. Havre has played everyone tight all season long and are definitely not to be taken lightly.”
Lewistown faces the Northstars of Havre on Thursday at 4 p.m. District Tournament games will be played at Centene Stadium in Great Falls, with the exception of the first two loser-out games on Friday, which will be played at Don Olson Field in Great Falls.
Other first-round matchups of the tournament include Lethbridge playing Fort Macleod on Thursday at 10 a.m. The next game is a contest between Vauxhall and Tri-County. The final first round game is Medicine Hat battling Great Falls at 7 p.m.
The winners of the first two games play Friday at 10 a.m. at Centene, while the losers also play at 10 a.m. at Olson Field. The second quarterfinal game is between the winners of the third and fourth games at 1 p.m. on Friday. The losers play at 1 p.m. also.
The championship of the district is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday. Look for the complete tournament bracket on page 11 of today’s News-Argus.

Sparks likes Redbirds’ chances
“I like our chances of making a state run with the depth we have on the mound,” Sparks said. “For the first time in a while I feel like I have enough depth to get through four days of baseball.
“The big key for us is at the plate,” Sparks continued. “We have had some older kids really struggle to stay above .200 at the plate this year. As a group, we have very few games 1-9 (batting order) where we hit well. We’ll ride the hot bats, whether it be young or old guys. I need nine guys who will compete at the plate and us a chance to win games.
“Our defense has become more steady,” added Sparks. “It’s just offensively we can struggle at times when we really shouldn’t.
“Hopefully each of the guys shows up mentally strong and ready to win,” concluded Sparks. “When we put it together, we are a great team. We just can’t have one of those stretches we’ve gone through where we don’t produce at the plate.”
 

Final Standings
North A Legion Baseball

Team        Conf    Overall
Vauxhall    19-7         25-9
Lewistown    20-8        42-27

Lethbridge    17-11        23-18
Medicine Hat    15-13     23-16
Great Falls    12-16     24-29

Fort Macleod    11-16     18-20
Tri-County    9-19     15-24
Havre        6-20     14-30

 

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