Huckers crowned season, tournament champs

By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Editor

BIG SKY – Softball in Big Sky is more like a religion than a game.

Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from June through August, smells of barbeque mingle with fans young and old in the Big Sky Community Park ball fields for a tradition that’s held captive summer audiences in this small town for nearly 15 years.

Mouth full of clay. Caleb Helsley slides headfirst into second base.

Mouth full of clay. Caleb Helsley slides headfirst into second base.

The Big Sky Softball League wrapped up season 14 with the annual weekend tournament Aug. 26-28. When the tourney dust had settled and the final out recorded, the Hillbilly Huckers—owners of three Big Sky Softball League tournament championships and eight regular season titles—had risen to the top yet again.

In the final tourney game, the Huckers crushed Black Bear by a final score of 33-7.

“It was an unexpected undefeated season with lots of luck along the way,” said Huckers manager Lee Horning, also co-commissioner for the league. “[We had] many one and two run games including an extra-inning game. We love playing against all the quality competition in this league.”

This 2016 season saw 16 teams competing for the top spot in the league, but on Aug. 24 the Huckers were again the last team standing after defeating Country Market 17-10 in the regular season championship game.

Despite a rally late in the game by Country Market, which finished 14-1 in the regular season this year, the Huckers offensive onslaught and strong pitching effort proved too much for the 2015 regular season and tournament champions.

A number of Big Sky groups and organizations have contributed to the league’s success over the years, Horning said.

Black Bear celebrates victory on Sunday.

Black Bear celebrates victory on Sunday.

Among those responsible included the Big Sky Community Organization, which manages and operates the community park and area trails; league co-commissioner Ethan Magnant; official scorekeeper “Queen” Jean Palmer; communications director Margo Magnant; and head umpire Dave Schwalbe.

“The year overall was another success,” Horning said. “Our goal is to provide an enjoyable and fair league for participants of varied ages and abilities; a place for community members and teams to gather together around the sport of softball.”

See you next year. Now get to church.