BUTTE — After making quick work of Billings Skyview in a best-of-three series on Tuesday, the Butte High Bulldogs are heading to the state softball tournament for the second year in a row and the 11th time in the past 13 years.
But these Bulldogs aren’t close to last year’s team. This edition enters the tournament with an abundance of experience.
“(The experience is) definitely something that we can look forward to and have confidence in each other as seniors to do,” said pitcher Kaidy McClafferty.
Eight players will be taking the field for the final time wearing the purple & white.
“They’re more mature,” said head coach Ryan Stosich. “The older you get, you usually get a little bit better.”
Butte has gotten a lot better. The Bulldogs enter the state tournament with a 16-7 record, and aren’t happy to just be on the big stage.
“I absolutely think this team could make a run,” third baseman Brittney Tierney said. “I think we should do some damage at state.”
Most coaches will tell you they’re as good as their best pitcher. With McClafferty stepping into the circle, Butte has the ability to compete with anybody on a given day.
“It’s the most important thing, really,” Stosich said. “You have to have a team, but you have to have that pitcher. She’s been there since (a freshman) starting for us.”
McClafferty is making her third trip to state as a starting pitcher. Now one of the senior leaders of the team, she hopes to make a splash.
“I want to leave a lasting mark that I’ll be able to come back and tell, hopefully, younger pitchers, ‘Hey, this is what I went through, and this is what you have to do.'”
With one of the best arms in Montana and an offense that has made huge improvements in 2018, the Bulldogs could make plenty of noise at the state tournament. The journey begins with a matchup against Missoula Sentinel in Helena.