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Busy week on the road for North Stars

 

June 17, 2014

Daniel Horton

Havre shortstop Jeff Miller throws out a runner during a recent American Legion baseball game at Legion Field. The North Stars are one the road at Conrad, Great Falls and Deer Lodge this week.

The American Legion baseball season is in full swing, and hopefully, some lousy weather doesn’t slow things down. The Havre North Stars have a busy week ahead of them, and they’ll look to avoid the rain in the process.

Today, the North Stars are in Conrad for the first of back-to-back Northern A doubleheaders on the road. The North Stars are set to face the Tri-County Cardinals twice today, then travel to Great Falls for a pair of conference games against the Great Falls Electrics Wednesday. Rain is in the forecast for both days, but the North Stars are hoping it stays away long enough to continue the momentum they built last week at home.

Last Thursday night, Havre improved to 4-2 in league play by sweeping the Cardinals at Legion Field. Havre rode the strong pitching performances of rookie Jeff Miller and veteran Tyrell Pierce to 3-0 and 5-2 wins, respectively, against the much-improved Cardinals.

But as good as Havre played at home, head coach Danny Wirtzberger said that his team will have to be even more sharp on the road. Tri-County is a vastly improved team this season, and the Cardinals will certainly look to get revenge on the North Stars today. Havre will likely throw either Pierce or Miller again this afternoon, while Gavin Gunderson and Chris Vukasin will also get starts either today or tomorrow in Great Falls.

“It’s such a huge advantage to have four pitchers we can send out there and get seven good innings out of,” Wirtzberger said. “That’s what we need, and in some years we haven’t had that. But we do this season.”

While Havre’s pitching has been a bright spot so far this season, the North Stars (9-8) need to continue improving at the plate. Havre hasn’t been putting up a lot of runs in recent weeks, but it has shown the ability to break out when needed. Last Thursday night, catcher Jake Sedahl and center fielder Ryne Antley came up with the big hits, while David Denny and Travis Roth have been Havre’s most consistent hitters throughout the season. However, if more batters can get going, Havre could become a very dangerous club as the summer goes on.

The North Stars also need to be dangerous now. Today’s games are big, and Wednesday’s double-dip in Great Falls could be even bigger. Havre split with the Electrics back in May at Legion Field, but Great Falls’ roster might have a different look now that summer is in full swing. Still, wins in Great Falls and Conrad this week would give Havre a big boost in the conference standings, especially given the fact that the bulk of the North Stars’ remaining conference games are on the road, and Havre has yet to play Northern District contenders Vauxhall, Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge.

Havre will also get plenty of chances to continue to improve this week. Not only do the North Stars play four big conference games, but they also travel to a tournament in Deer Lodge over the weekend. At the Deer Lodge Tournament, Havre will face teams from Butte, Missoula and Deer Lodge in pool play, while the winners from each pool of the 10-team tournament advance to a championship game Sunday.

This afternoon’s doubleheader in Conrad gets started at 1. The North Stars play in Great Falls at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday. Havre returns home to host the Missoula Prospects twice and the Great Falls Outlaws once next week.

 

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