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Dillon baseball aiming to end banner year for Beaver athletics with state berth

Posted at 2:36 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 15:22:53-04

BUTTE — Last year's inaugural Montana high school baseball season saw 21 pioneering teams navigate some challenges, not the least of which was a rash of winter weather that greatly hampered some programs' ability to play a full schedule.

Among that initial slate of teams was the Dillon Beavers, who fell one game short of their bid to play at 3 Legends Stadium in the first-ever Montana state baseball tournament.

"We had a game to go to state against Hamilton last year and ended up losing 1-0," said Zach McRae, now in his second year at the helm of Dillon's team. "We're just trying to learn those lessons and take it one day at a time. We're just excited about this year. It's crazy to think it's halfway over, but we've had a lot of fun."

You could say it's been a fun year for Dillon athletics in general. McRae was head coach of the Beavers football team that pulled out an overtime victory in the Class A championship back in November. Then in March, under first-year head coach Jeff Edwards, Dillon's basketball team stormed to the State A title.

"What a special year for the Dillon Beavers," said McRae. "Getting football and basketball. Kudos to the basketball team. We're just trying to make it so baseball has a chance for it."

With players from both championship teams sprinkled on Dillon's baseball roster, there's hope of adding another accomplishment to this academic year by advancing to this season's state tournament in Missoula. But the Beavers — who are tied with Butte for third place in the Southwest Conference and two games behind Corvallis and Hamilton in the battle for the second state seed out of the league — will need a lot to go their way to make it happen.

"We definitely want to make it to state this year," said senior shortstop Kale Konen, who was a running back on Dillon's championship football team. "We won state in football and basketball and we want to get one in baseball too."

While Dillon will need help to make that state appearance a reality, the mentality of this team isn't wavering and that mindset has been consistent across all of Dillon's teams this year.

"What's really cool is the continuity of the programs," said McRae. "We teach the same thing in all the programs — work really hard, team first."

The Beavers will look to carry that attitude into their final six regular-season games where they'll be looking to play their best baseball of the season as they try to find a way to advance to state.

"I think we're coming up on the rise right now," said sophomore pitcher Cohen Hartman, who was part of Dillon's basketball championship. "If we can peak at the right time we can make a really good state run."