Doug Hare EBS Staff
BIG SKY – Over the weekend of Aug. 27-28, the Big Sky Softball League wrapped up its 15th season with 14 teams competing for a chance to win the end-of-season, double elimination softball tournament. When the dust had settled on Sunday evening, the Lone Peak Caregivers Golden Goats emerged from the loser’s bracket and managed to defeat the regular season champions Hillbilly Huckers twice to lay claim to the title.
The reigning champions from 2016, the Huckers had an impressive season again this year, finishing 14-1, and then giving the Golden Goats their first loss of the season on their way to winning the regular season championship game. They also cruised into the finals of the tournament, beating LPC once again on Sunday, with homeruns and line drives jumping off their bats all day.
But with the sun setting over Lone Peak, the Golden Goats managed to win two nail-biters as many other teams stuck around to cheer for their favorite team. “The path of the goat is steep and rocky,” said Pete Manka, first baseman for LPC. “We had a strong regular season, and we were able to climb the mountain pass when we needed to.”
“Hats off to the Huckers,” said Charle Gaillard, the pitcher and coach of the Golden Goats who cobbled together his team for their first season this year. “Every game we played with them was fun. They’re tough to beat!”
Softball in Big Sky continues to be a favorite tradition for year-round locals. Taking advantage of the late, summer sunlight and crisp, evening air, teams bond with each other and with one another, win or lose, over hotdogs or hamburgers, and maybe a cold beverage.
“It’s so fun because of the wide variety of community members that participate and come together around a team sport for all abilities,” said Lee Horning, who has been league commissioner for three seasons. “There are moments of sportsmanship, camaraderie and hopefully a few new friendships made.”
Horning went on to thank all the individuals and organizations in the community that make the league possible.
“I’d like to thank all those who helped out, the scorekeepers and umps, it’s a thankless task. All the time and effort Dave Schwalbe and Queen Jean put forth starting in the spring is much appreciated,” he added.
“To those who helped maintain the fields, Michelle Horning, Whitney McKenzie, and Leisha Folley for all the social media work. And of course Ciara Wolfe, Scott Hoeksema and everybody at the Big Sky Community Organization. What a great season all around!”
It might be a while before the parking lot at the Big Sky Community Park is at capacity again, but the fun and memories had by softball participants and spectators will last until next season.
Editor’s note: The writer of this story plays for the LPC Golden Goats.