by Ryan Divish
Havre Daily News Sports Editor
A little bit of history will be made on Saturday when the Havre High fast pitch softball team takes on the Livingston Rangers at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Softball Field.
After years of prodding, pushing and pressing for high school fast pitch in Havre, Saturday will be the first official Montana High School Association sanctioned fast pitch game to be played here. Actually, the Ponies will play two on the day, taking on Browning later in the day.
While it may not seem like a major accomplishment to people unfamiliar with the situation, the significance is not lost on head coach Bob Evans and his Pony players.
"It really is an accomplishment," Evans said. "It's a big deal to the parents, fans and kids that wanted to see this happen."
But Evans is quick to admit there is an even a wider scope of people that made softball a reality. And he views Saturday's opening game as a chance to thank them.
"Our girls are definitely excited," Evans said. "We've talked about playing for all the people and businesses that helped support with their and money or effort. Because without them we wouldn't be here."
For Evans, the perfect "thank you" would be the team's first win of the season against Livingston. It's a very realistic prospect.
Like Havre, the Rangers are in their first season of existence in MHSA. But that may be a little misleading, according to Evans.
"I think they're a team we should be able to play with," he said. "They're a first-year team like us, but I think they've had girls fast pitch in their little leagues for quite awhile."
Evans will start ace pitcher Kristin Evanson against Livingston, despite the fact that the game against Browning is a conference game.
"We're going to have a lot of people at that first game and I want to have our best pitcher throwing," Evans said. "I think by having Kristin throwing it will give us some confidence early."
Although Evans doesn't know a whole lot about the Rangers' personnel or how they play, he is more concerned with how his team is playing at this point.
Last Saturday the Ponies struggled in their season opener, falling twice to a veteran Whitefish squad. The combination of mental mistakes, errors and strikeouts didn't help Havre's chances of winning.
However, after a week of practice Evans hopes those wrinkles would be straightened out.
"I think we got a chance to get those early butterflies out last week," Evans said. "We really got a lot accomplished this week in practice. We worked very hard on hitting this week. We had the pitching machine cranked up pretty hard and we were hitting the ball hard. I think offensively we'll be much better."
While the first game is very important to the Ponies, the second game against Browning is equally important because it's a conference game.
A year ago as a club team, Havre split with Browning in a doubleheader. That success should give the Ponies some confidence.
"It's a game that if we play well, we should beat them," Evans said.
With all of the attention surrounding the first home game, perhaps Evans' biggest goal is for team to do more than just show up and play.
"I'd be disappointed if we didn't play well," Evan said. "It's one thing to lose and play well. It's another to lose and not play well. I know we'll be better than we were last week."
Havre and Livingston will square off at 1 p.m. Browning and Livingston will then play at 3 p.m., while Havre and Browning will wrap up the day at 5 p.m.