Tuesday’s Eastern AA softball opener between Billings Skyview and Billings West was also an eye-opener.
Skyview knocked three home runs and had 11 hits off reigning Gatorade Player of the Year Jessyka MacDonald, and went on to defeat the Golden Bears 12-1 at Poly Vista in a game shortened to five innings due to the 10-run rule.
Amber Meyers homered in her first two at-bats and Julia Gutierrez added a grand slam that put the finishing touches on the offensive fireworks as the Falcons cruised past the defending Class AA champions to get their conference season started on a high note.
“We had a really good week in practice this last week and we just kept our intensity up,” said Meyers, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the third. “I think that’s what did it for us is our practice before this game.”
From the start it looked to be an uncharacteristic day for MacDonald, and it turned out to be just that. MacDonald walked 18 batters all of last season, in 142 innings, but she issued three free passes on Tuesday and hit three additional batters. Skyview (3-3, 1-0) had base runners in every inning and batted around in a four-run fourth inning and sent eight hitters to the plate in a five-run fifth inning.
“In baseball and softball, it’s kind of funny, you have those nights where the ball looks big and you hit the ball, and you have those nights where it looks like a ping-pong ball,” Skyview coach Michael Falcon said. “Today it was one of those days where it looked big for us. So we’ll take it. That’s against a very, very good pitcher and we’re happy with the effort.”
Skyview pitcher Meggie Reitz was very good this night, as well. Reitz allowed just three hits, including Devan Dennehy’s solo home run in the second that kept West within 2-1. But Reitz allowed just one base runner the rest of the way and she retired the last eight hitters she faced. Reitz didn’t walk a batter while striking out five, including West’s last two hitters to end the game.
“This gives us a big boost and gives us a lot of confidence, because we were kind of down from last weekend,” said Reitz, referencing the Falcons’ trip to Missoula that ended with a split in four games. “This was just a new start. Conference is starting and it’s just a new start.”
Nothing really went right for the Bears, who dropped their first game after a 3-0 start. West entered the game having outscored their three opponents 28-1, but this game was Skyview’s from the beginning when MacDonald hit Heidi Riley to open the game and Meyers followed two batters later with her first home run.
“You’ve got to have a game sometime in your life when that happens to you, and this was it,” West coach Ed Kriskovich said. “They came out and hit the ball. (MacDonald) didn’t have her best stuff, but, hey, you can’t take it away from Skyview. You hit the ball, you’re going to score some runs.”
NOTES: Despite her struggles in the circle, MacDonald struck out 12. ... Meyers has three home runs and 12 RBIs in her first six games. ... Katie Kent drove in three runs for the Falcons, giving her 10 on the season. Gutierrez doubled her RBI total to eight with her grand slam. ... West hosts Butte in a doubleheader on Saturday, while Skyview has home doubleheaders with Butte on Friday and Great Falls on Saturday.