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The State ASA Fastpitch Tournament this weekend at Stewart Park marked a homecoming for one of the best prep pitchers Montana has seen in recent years.

Former Billings Senior and Missoula Big Sky fireballer Lisa Macki was back in town for the tournament with the U-18 Missoula Shockers. Macki had an outstanding all-state career pitching for Big Sky, but for Senior, she could be viewed as the one that got away.

Maki pitched her freshman year with the Broncs before her parents took new jobs in Missoula. She then went on to star at Big Sky, where she set the Class AA single-season strikeout record with 200-plus Ks.

For the most part, Macki is happy with the way things turned out.

“It gave me some opportunities,” she said. “I’ve obviously gotten to where I wanted to get to, and I’m very happy.”

The Broncs could have used Macki services for those three years she was gone. In both 1998 and 2000, Senior was the AA runner-up. In 1999, the Broncs placed third.

After she graduated from Big Sky in 2000, Macki went to Division II Kennesaw State University (Ga.) of the Peach Belt Athletic Conference, and ended up with a 28-7 record as the Owls No. 1 starter. Macki even got to throw in the D-II national tournament.

“We made it to the national championship, which only eight teams are involved in,” Macki said. “We went out in two (games), but it was a good experience. It was pretty amazing for us to make it there.”

Before heading back to Kennesaw, though, Macki wants to enjoy the summer competition in the place where it all got started.

“This is the first time I’ve played (in Billings) for summer ball,” she said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of people I haven’t seen for awhile, and we have family here still, too. It’s fun to be here.”Marquee matchupOne of the most anticipated second-round matchups proved to also be one of the best games of the day.

The Billings Blues U-18 team met the three-time tournament champion Missoula Lady Mavs in a 6 p.m. contest. After falling down 3-2 in the fifth inning and then 5-3 later in the seventh, the Blues battled back in the bottom half of the seventh with a pair of runs to tie it, highlighted by an Amber Reese solo homer.

In the eighth, however, Missoula’s Stefani Hertz singled home Anna Henderson, and the 6-5 lead held up as the final score.

“(Missoula’s) a very good ballclub,” said Blues coach Ed Kriskovich. “There fun to play, and we always play them tough. You have to give 100% when you’re playing a good team like that.”

Earlier in the day, the Blues beat the Bitterroot Ballstars 4-0 behind a solid pitching effort from Melissa Marshall.

Marshall threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just two hits while striking out 10. The Blues scored all four of their runs in the first inning, none of them earned against the Ballstars.

“The first couple innings we hit the ball pretty good,” said Kriskovich of the early victory. “We caught them off guard and they made a couple errors.”

The Billings Braves U-18 team fell in their opener, 4-3 to the Helena Stingrays. Helena scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning on an error.

The U-18 Magic City Explosion, on the way to their second round matchup with Macki and the Shockers, hammered the Bozeman Stealers 9-0 Friday.Fun fundraisingSome people don’t just watch tournaments like these, they turn them into economic opportunities. That’s just what Chip and Sharon Jones of Frenchtown have been doing all summer.

The Joneses, who own a foundry in Frenchtown, bring a sculpted item — a Chip Jones original — to each tournament their daughters are in, and raffle it off. They in turn give the earnings to the two teams their daughters play for. Morgan competes for the U-16 Missoula-Frenchtown Storm, while Kelly is a member of the U-14 Frenchtown Badgirls.

“We give the money to the coaches, and they use it for tournament needs and whatnot,” Sharon Jones said. “We’ve done this at five or six tournaments so far.”

The drawing is actually a penny raffle, with 500 numbered tickets available. Whatever number is on the ticket a person pulls is how many pennies that person pays. The final drawing for the item — this time a bronze elk— will be held tonight.

The most a person can pay for a ticket is $5. Not bad for a chance to win a sculpted item with a retail value between $1400-1700, according to Sharon Jones

“We get to meet a lot of people this way,” Sharon Jones said. “We’ve had people come by who have bought tickets at other tournaments saying, ‘I’m going to win my bronze this time.’ It’s fun.”

Sharon Jones said she and her husband have made about $600 so far this summer for their daughters’ teams. And counting.

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