With not quite a month of play behind them, the Class B Troy varsity and Class A Libby junior varsity teams had their second meeting of the season in a double header played at Libby’s Remp Field on Tuesday, leading to double 13-3 wins for Libby.
Yet, both of the young teams demonstrated how much of a difference determination and work can make even over such a short period of time.
Though the matchup was as much in Libby’s favor as before, the quality of play for both teams had gone up significantly.
The teams still saw errors and gave up bases and even runs on missed catches, but the games also had a lot more close calls and more moments decided by skill rather than error.
“We hit the ball well. We’re improving every game,” said Libby JV Coach Jeremy Hageness. “We had a lot of young girls, and from the start of the season until now, we’re just — drastic leaps and bounds in gains.”
Hageness noted that Libby’s JV team had players who couldn’t even catch at the start of the season. “And now they’re catching the ball, and they’re attacking.”
One of the places that Troy has shown noticeable improvement is just in the confidence to make plays and brush themselves off and keep going when a play falls apart.
“I thought our girls battled well,” said Troy Head Coach Keith Haggerty. “Again, we end up with a hiccup here or there, and things just happen, but what I’m seeing from them, when those hiccups come, they’re not as long lasting as they have been in the past.”
Hageness noted the recent change in moving Freshman Taylor Holm from first base to catcher.
Holm is a player who literally stands out among her teammates, easily a head taller than most other players on the field. Yet, she has taken quickly to the catcher’s position.
“She’s just picked it up like crazy,” Hageness said.
On Tuesday, Holm reacted quickly when Troy junior Kaylee Tunison made a dash for second on a ball, throwing to freshman shortstop Bethany Thomas in time to catch the fleet-footed Tunison, who has developed a talent for running faster than some players can throw.
Holm is also showing strength as a hitter, Hageness said.
Holm took a base on three of her four at-bats Tuesday, getting a single and a double — turned into a triple by an error — off of solid line drives to the outfield. She made a double off a grounder to center field.
Both coaches were also aware of the strengths and limitations in pitching that came out during the games.
Between sophomore Keira Ward and junior Linsey Walker, Libby’s JV was able to field two pitchers who showed they can perform at a varsity level.
“Both of those girls had great, great days,” Hageness said.
For Troy sophomore Mazzy Hermes — who had already pitched five games in less than a week — there was no relief to fall back on.
Troy’s other go-to pitcher, junior Tristyn Winebark, has played first base most games since an injury took her off the mound. While she is recovering, Haggerty said she hasn’t been able to work effectively on her pitching.
“And our other pitcher that’s pitched a couple is Montana (Rice), but we need her at third base,” Haggerty said.
On the other hand, Haggerty said that both Winebark and Rice have become solid in those positions.
Hageness said that pitchers are a strength for Libby, but the real source of that strength comes from the community behind the scenes.
“That’s the one place where Libby’s always strong, because we have a lot of good volunteers, and the girls are able to put in the extra time to pitch in the offseason,” he said.
While Haggerty said that the team is still focused on finishing out this season, he acknowledged the potential for ongoing improvement with a team of players who could all come out again next season.
“With the work ethic that they put in already this past season, I definitely see a lot of that happening again,” he said.
Haggerty gave the example of junior Paige Chapel, who came into the season with no experience.
“She’s never played before this year, and she just keeps getting better and better — and more confident,” he said.
Rounding out the infield, the second base/ shortstop combo of sophomore Izzy Ramirez and freshman Talise Becquart continue to improve as well, Haggerty said.
“They’re still upbeat, and I think they really can surprise some people,” Haggerty said of the Lady Trojans.
“They have that potential. It’s there,” he said. “And I just look at games in the past that, if we had played at least like this, we could have won,” he said.
Tuesday May 8
Libby 13, Troy 3
T 110 10 - R:3 H:6 E:11
L 131 53 - R:13 H:8 E:1
L: Bethany Thomas 4-0, 1; Linsey Walker 4-1, 3; Keira Ward 3-0, 1; Amaya Borden 1-0, 1; Shayla Gallagher 2-1, 1; McKenzie Profit 4-2, 2; Bridgett Haskins 4-1, 1; Cerria Swagger 2-1; Samantha Miller 3-1, 1; Ashlyn Monigold 2-1, 2
T: Kaylee Tunison 2-2, 1; Montana Rice 3-1; Cami Finley 3-1, 1; Kenzie Wallace 2-2, 1
Batting: 2B - Profit, Swagger, Rice; 3B - Tunison; HR - Gallagher; ROE - Thomas 2, Walker 2, Ward, Haskins, Swagger, Miller, Borden, Becquart; RBI - Walker, Gallagher 2, Profit, Haskins, Swagger 3, Tunison 2
Pitching: W - Walker 5, .694 S%, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 8 SO, 2 BB; L - Mazzy Hermes 4.2, .653 S%, 8 h, 13 R, 1 ER, 4 SO, 3 BB, 1 HR
Libby 13, Troy 3
T 120 00 - R:3 H:4 E:6
L 650 02 - R:13 H:9E:5
L: Bethany Thomas 3-1, 1; Kayley Svendsbye 3-0, 1; Keira Ward 4-1; Taylor Holm 4-2, 1; Aren James 4-1, 3; Amaya Borden 4-1, 2; Haley Benjamin 3-1, 2; Kendra Gillespie 1-0, 2; Ashlyn Monigold 2-2, 1
T: Kaylee Tunison 3-1, 1; Izzy Ramirez 3-1; Talise Becquart 3-2, 1; Paige Chapel 2-0, 1
Batting: 2B - Holm; 3B - Becquart; ROE - Thomas 2, James, Borden, Holm, Gillespie, Ramirez, Montana Rice, Tunison, Tristyn Winebark; RBI - Thomas 2, Monigold 2, Holm, Gillespie, Tunison
Pitching: W - Keira Ward 5.0, .707 S% 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 9 SO, 0 BB; L - Mazzy Hermes 4.1, .549 S%, 9 H, 13 R, 1 ER, 3 SO, 5 BB