Connect with us


LPC defeats Huckers, win adult softball tournament 

Avatar photo



Milo Ames rounds third after cracking a three-run shot in the championship game. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Managers, head umpire and commissioner reflect on Big Sky’s most competitive season yet, despite weather challenges 


Editor’s note: Jack Reaney played for LPC and also reported on the end-of-season tournament. 

In Monday’s championship matchup between top-seeded teams in the Big Sky Softball League, the Hillbilly Huckers earned a chance to defend their 2022 tournament title. In the Huckers’ way, and eventually triumphant, stood a perennial rival in the Lone Peak Cannabis Co. (LPC) Golden Goats.  

Last season, the Huckers won both the regular season championship and end-of-season tournament, defeating LPC and the Herbaceous Smokey Bears, respectively. This year, LPC defeated the Huckers in both title games, by scores of 19-9 and 22-6.  

LPC earned two trophies, one for the regular season and one for the tournament. PHOTO BY TUCKER HARRIS

The end-of-season tournament finally wrapped up on Monday evening, after rain postponed Sunday’s semifinal game between Riverhouse and Huckers. That game was suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Huckers leading 8-6 and resumed on Monday night—the Huckers quickly earned a championship berth. 

Rolling with the weather 

The 2023 season may be remembered for its fluid schedule. Early on, rain and drenched fields resulted in some teams having played eight or nine games, while other teams had played only three or four. In June, the final innings of a few games were finished during downpour and not-too-distant lightning. Rescheduled games brought the league back up to speed, but rain returned to soak the fields just in time for the tournament on Aug. 26-27.  

Steven Reid, recreation coordinator with the Big Sky Community Organization and league commissioner, had his hands full.  

Just a half-hour rain shower put a stop to Sunday’s tournament play. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

“Well, my chiropractor is going to be getting a call, that’s for sure,” Reid told EBS after the championship game—as LPC’s right-center fielder, Reid caught the final out of the season.  

Reid worked almost 15 hours on Saturday and clocked in at 8 a.m. on Monday to prepare the fields for evening ball. Volunteers lent helping hands to make the tournament possible, shoveling infield puddles into paint buckets on Saturday. 

“Again, like always, the community stepping in,” Reid reflected. “Especially Saturday, I had to go find some more tools for people to use because so many people came out. And our maintenance team at BSCO just killed it. Bill [Malholtra] dragged the fields like four times yesterday, and without those drags before the rain, the field would have been a huge mess today.”  

Reid thanked the community for welcoming him to his new role this summer, including the softball committee that helped him navigate challenges throughout the season.  

Competitive as ever 

Dave Schwalbe, head umpire and longtime league participant, said the 2023 league featured a particular balance of competition. 

“I thought the games between teams [ranked] one through about eight were probably the most competitive we’ve ever had for both the season and for the tournament,” Schwalbe said. As for next year, he hopes to see that trend continue.  

He added another hope for 2024: “What I’d really like to see is the weather cooperate for us. This was by far one of the hardest years to keep the field in shape,” Schwalbe said.  

After the showers on Sunday afternoon, the BSCO crew focused on preparing “Field 2” for Monday’s action. When the Huckers and Riverhouse took the field at 6 p.m., the infield was in great shape and the outfield mostly dry.  

Huckers manager Lee Horning smacks a deep drive in the semifinal game. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Two innings later, Huckers prevailed and LPC warmed up—with a Golden Goats’ win, the season would come to an end. A Huckers’ win would force a second, winner-take-all game on Tuesday.  

Lee Horning, manager of the Huckers and league participant since 2008, agreed that talent continues to grow. He said it was a hard fight to get back to the tournament championship. 

“Oh, every year, teams get better and better and better,” Horning told EBS after the game. “There used to be games that you knew were probably going to be easier than some, this year there was no easy game. Everybody hit the ball well. The level of play keeps getting better and better.” 

Huckers shortstop Tito Ruiz smiles during the championship game. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

After three innings of championship play, LPC owned a 16-2 lead.  

The Huckers battled in their half of the fourth inning, closing the deficit to 16-6 behind a solo home run from Tito Ruiz and a two-run homer off the bat of Will Brennecke. 

But LPC made good use of their allowed home runs—shots by Craig Ames (2), Milo Ames and Miles Galbo helped the team score 22 runs. The Goats also fed on timely hitting, with a few bases-clearing gap shots.  

“They were just too tough,” Horning said. “LPC just hit the schmack out of the ball today.” 

LPC manager Charlie Gaillard rips an RBI double. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Charlie Gaillard, LPC manager, has been involved with the league since 2010 and managing LPC for seven years.  

“The competition was as at the best I’ve ever seen, so we feel very fortunate to have taken both titles,” Gaillard told EBS.  

On defeating the Huckers, Gaillard was gleeful.  

“Yeah, it feels amazing,” he said. “That’s one of the more special points of the whole thing—we beat that team that typically beats us more than we beat them. And we got them four-in-a-row this year, so that’s dramatic.”  

Horning noted gratitude for the Hillbilly Huckers’ humble sponsor, Lone Pine Builders, who helped build and maintain the dugouts at Big Sky Community Park.  

Future field improvements will continue to be a topic of discussion—this year’s weather highlighted the need for drainage solutions, and BSCO recently announced plans to convert one field into synthetic turf, sized for high school baseball but intended for multi-sport use.

Teams hang out under the pavilion during Sunday’s rain delay. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

As softball came to a close with the chilly nights of late August, perhaps the most important highlight from the end-of-season tournament was the gathering of Big Sky community. The weekend fostered handshakes, salutations of “good luck” and “good game,” cheers and chirps from bustling bleachers, and on-field rivalries that dissolved fast under the pavilion roof.  

For providing a healthy release of tension at the end of the Big Sky summer, it could be said that the Big Sky Softball League and BSCO hit a grand slam.  

Upcoming Events

september, 2023

Filter Events

23sep12:00 pm4:00 pmLPHS Soccer vs. Lockwood High School12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Lone Peak High School

23sep5:00 pm8:00 pmLPHS Volleyball vs. Gardiner5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Lone Peak High School

24sepAll DayHistory & Geology of the Taylor Fork(All Day: sunday) Event Type :EducationEvent City:Big Sky

26sep5:00 pm9:00 pmWine and Dine Tuesdays5:00 pm - 9:00 pm Rainbow Ranch Lodge & RestaurantEvent Type :Other