BUTTE — Jim LeProwse's first year guiding Butte High's upstart baseball team ultimately ended short of expectations with the Bulldogs bowing out of the state tournament one game short of the consolation final.
But as he — and a majority of those Bulldog players — turn their attention toward defending the Butte Miners Class A state and regional titles, he knows there was one unmistakable benefit of getting over a dozen games in.
"We were able to knock some rust off," LeProwse said. "See how everybody can play together. Obviously it's not the exact same team but the majority of players from (Butte High) play Legion."
The Miners will return a few pitchers that the Bulldogs didn't have: Super senior Kenley Leary and senior Rye Doherty who played for Butte Central during the inaugural high school baseball season.
"That's a lot more depth," LeProwse said. "And we've got a lot of young guys that can throw really well too. It's nice to have that kind of depth."
The Miners are 6-0 to start this season and haven't dropped a game since falling to the Belgrade Bandits 12-3 on July 15, 2022.
Unlike last summer, when Butte stormed to its first state title since 1953 and then went on to win the NWCART (Northwest Class A Regional Tournament) for the first time ever, the Miners won't be able to take anyone by surprise this season.
"We definitely have a target on our backs," said sophomore first baseman Cayde Stajcar. "We're on a 28-game win streak now. Everybody wants to break it, everybody wants to beat us. But if we just focus on us and play our game, I think we'll be alright."
Said LeProwse: "Approach it one game at a time. We have our ultimate goal at the end of the season where we'd like to be. But we got to take care of business along the way."
The South A Tournament runs from July 20-23 in Three Forks with the top two teams advancing to the State A Tournament in Laurel July 26-30. The winner of that then heads for the NWCART in Havre.