Big Sky softball finishes off year 13

Story by Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor
Photos by Wes Overvold Outlaw Partners Photographer/Videographer

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Softball League ended its 13th regular season on Aug. 26 when Country Market upended the Hillbilly Huckers 26-10 to take home the coveted season trophy. The following weekend, the traditional season-ending softball tournament brought hundreds of fans to the Big Sky Community Park ball fields with grills, coolers and cowbells to root-on their favorite clubs.

It’s a spectacle Jean Palmer, the official scorekeeper since the league’s 2002 inception, can’t get enough of.

“The camaraderie of the working community was so special,” said Palmer, also the Big Sky Post Office manager. “People always ask how’s your team doing, [and] ‘Are you still doing that?’ When they hear the roar of the crowd they know [we’re] having fun.”

And fans heard the roar over the two-day tournament Aug. 29-30, when 14 teams played more than 30 combined games. Some teams beefed up their rosters; others flew players from outside the region to play.

When the dust settled on field two after the tourney championship game, Country Market was again left standing, this time with a 12-11 nail-biter over the Yellowstone Club, and this time holding the tournament trophy

Country Market: Big Sky Softball League and Tournament Champions

Country Market: Big Sky Softball League and Tournament Champions

high over their champagne-soaked heads.

The season overall was a smashing success, according to first-year league commissioner Lee Horning.

“We had a few new rules that have made the games more competitive and move along,” Horning said, referring to a three-homerun limit and a coed walk rule wherein a female player can opt to take first base if the male who batted before her was walked.

“The highlight of the year [was] the numerous competitive games that [went] down to the wire,

The crack of the bat.

The crack of the bat.

with fewer blowouts,” Horning said. “The talent level and softball knowledge is increasing and competitive play is a result of that.”

Scores of volunteers, along with the Big Sky Community Corp. staff, made this season one for the ages. And the throngs of softball fans kept players hustling around the bases and the stands full.

And that’s what makes Big Sky softball such a success: the fans.

“It’s the aunts and uncles and families that come to visit, and it’s the residents,” Palmer said. “That’s what community is about.”

Baseball, and by default softball, is a game that allows fans to relax and put to sleep the daily grind; to ease back

Enlivened fans show their support at the 2015 Big Sky Softball League Tournament.

Enlivened fans show their support at the 2015 Big Sky Softball League Tournament.

in a seat and soak up the sun along with some hard-fought innings of America’s pastime; to hear the crack of the bat.