Seven-year itch

Lady Bulldog softball makes it to state after extended hiatus
Thursday, May 24, 2018

Photo by Andrew Turck

Lady Bulldog player Annie Schneider slides into first base during a Saturday afternoon game against the Laurel Locomotives. Despite a 0-4 deficit in the first inning, Hardin slowed Laurel’s ability to score and pulled ahead 10-6 in the sixth inning.

Photo by Andrew Turck

Hardin pitcher Demi Uffelman receives the ball after the Lady Bulldogs managed to complete a double play against the Billings Central Rams in the fourth inning. Despite their loss to Central, the Ladies placed third in the Eastern A division and will be going to the State Class A Softball Tournament for the first time in seven years.

Hardin’s Lady Bulldog softball team, since the start of the season, has just been getting better and better. Case and point: for their last day at the Eastern A Divisional Softball Tournament, they made 22 runs in two games and knocked out their final opponent – Glendive’s Red Devils – in the fifth inning 13-3 via the mercy rule.

Starting Thursday, May 24, the team heads to the State Class A Softball Tournament in Frenchtown as the third place winner in their division. This is their first time going to state in seven years.

“Our girls today hit the best I’ve seen them hit all year,” said Hardin Head Coach Sarah DeVore. “We just came out swinging today. We had nothing to lose; we’re the underdogs.”

Opting for an arguably more poetic turn of phrase, outfielder Hailey Cannon added, “We hit the crap out of the ball.”

The third inning was the charm for the Ladies against Glendive, starting with a home run on the first bat by outfield player Natalie Edgar. From there, they swung, ran and stole their way across the field, going from a score of 2-2 to one of 10-2 by the fourth inning.

Against Laurel’s Locomotives, the team also proved they could work their way back from a deficit, starting 0-4, then slowly moving their way up to a tie of 6-6 in the sixth inning. Once they caught up, the Ladies pulled ahead for a final score of 10-6, culminating in a home run from first baseman Kelly Feller. Before Feller, pitcher Demi Uffelman also managed knock it over the fence.

Their first game last Thursday – and also the reason they didn’t make it to the championship – was against the Billings Central Rams, who the Ladies defeated 12-2 in late April, but didn’t match in divisionals. Central began the game in style, bringing in two with a home run during the first inning, then getting in another run for a 3-0 lead. Scoring went at a snail’s pace from that point onward, until the Ladies fell 3-5 in the seventh.

In getting this far, Cannon credited DeVore, as well as Assistant Coaches Jonah Red Cherries and Alice Ann Sloan. According to Cannon, “They came in last year and completely turned this program around.”

Of the team’s 17 players, three – including Cannon – are seniors. Despite belonging to a “young team,” she said, “every single girl on this team contributes.”

DeVore spotlighted Courtney Uffelman, calling her ability to pick up second base duties from Tori Marty “unbelievable” after the latter tore an ACL while running against Laurel.

“Courtney stepped up and then Demi threw ‘lights out’ [against Glendive],” De-Vore said. “She wanted it.”

Hardin will be facing the Libby Loggers at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 24.

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