Courtney Moodry leads AHS softball with All-State nod

Anaconda catcher Courtney Moodry led the contingent of seven Copperheads selected to the 2013 Southwestern A softball All Conference teams chosen last week following the regular season.

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Courtney Moodry

Moodry, a junior catcher and lead-off hitter for the Copperheads, was the lone first team honoree, and earned her second-consecutive All-State nomination as well.The Copperheads finished the season in third place in the SW-A followed by a 1-2 showing at the Class A state tournament last weekend in Belgrade (click here to see a replay of all the games via Anaconda’s scorecast).Five Copperheads were chosen for Second Team honors. Senior pitcher Brooke Chapman, senior second baseman Karli King and senior center fielder Lauren Bolton, junior first baseman Delaney Chapman and junior third baseman Sara Schaefer all made the list.

Sophomore right fielder Lacee Moodry earned a spot on the Honorable Mention team.

Hamilton head coach Jason Goligoski earned Coach of The Year honors as well. All State selections alongside Moodry included Hamilton’s Brie Clifford (P) and Taylor Goligoski (SS), Butte Central’s Shannon McLaughlin (C) and Teresa Piazzola (P) and Stevensville’s Alycia Sims (3B).

2013 Southwestern A Softball All Conference-State

American Legion Post 21 celebrates Memorial Day with ceremony, honors fallen comrades

Monday’s annual Memorial Day program and Post Everlasting ceremony by American Legion Post 21 and its Auxiliary was a lasting reminder of those who gave and are giving the ultimate sacrifice for our American way of life.

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Montana Lt. Gov. Walsh pins Henry Villa with the Air Medal during the Memorial Day program Monday at Washoe Theatre

The event, emceed by Post 21 Commander Dave McLean, began with the Memorial Day program at Washoe Theatre. Serving as dignitaries for the event were two of the highest ranking government officials in Montana — Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Lt. Governor John Walsh.

Tester, as McLean introduced as “one of the biggest supporters of veteran’s in Washington,” spoke quickly and eloquently, leaving the keynote address to Walsh.

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Sen. Jon Tester and Lt. Gov. Walsh were the dignitaries present for Monday’s Memorial Day festivities in Anaconda

Walsh went a bit deeper, speaking to the heart of what Memorial Day means to Montanans, Americans and himself, a 33-year veteran of the National Guard, touching on topics such as honor, duty and sacrifice.

Later, both Tester and Walsh helped present Donald Kelley Sr., Howard Hunter and Dale Harthan the Republic of Korea-Korean War Service Medal and Henry Villa the Air Medal in recognition of his service in Vietnam from Sept. 14, 1969 to March 5, 1970.

Then, the congregation watched the Post 21 and Auxiliary Honor Guard march up Main Street to the Memorial Monument for the Post Everlasting ceremony.

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Post 21 and Auxiliary Honor Guard

Youths representing several service organizations in Anaconda then placed wreaths in commemoration of the memory of our brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great Nation.

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Meika Boyer and Brennen Blume were two of the many local youths representing service organizations during the Post Everlasting ceremony

Art Ellison of Post 21 read off the names of the service members who lost their lives this calendar year, then burned the orders of the fallen, transferring them to Post Everlasting.

Below is a picture tour through both events courtesy of Post 21. All photographs are property of Blake Hempstead, however copies can be e-mailed or burned to disc upon request. Please contact him at brhempstead@yahoo.com for any and all requests.

Steve Keller snubbed for Carroll hoops gig; winner Dillon, UMW

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Scrolling through my Twitter feed before work is what I like to do in order to start my day off right. Some people – all you grandfather’s and dinosaurs out there – like to sift through pages of stanky old newspapers, however I find it refreshing to be 140 characters away from breaking and pertinent news stories of my liking on my new favorite social media tool.

But today, Twitter enraged me fully. Why?

Well, thanks to the best online news feed for Southwestern Montana at buttesports.com (courtesy that lovable d-bag Bill Foley), I saw Carroll College had announced the signing of Carson Cunningham, a high school coach out of Indiana, to head the Saints’ men’s hoops program.

A double-take ensued. Did I miss something? Did Steve Keller have a change of heart and pull out of the running? Did he decide to go another direction?

No.

No.

And No.

For once, I didn’t have to read the presser. I knew they picked the wrong man for the job.

With all due respect to Mr. Cunningham, who, I’m sure is a wonderfully talented coach in order to jump ranks halfway across the US to land the NAIA job, but are you frickin kidding me?

Steve Keller hails from the Helena area. He built a high school program into a contender, then stepped into the mighty shoes of Mark Durham and made the Montana Western program better than ever. Four straight trips to Kansas City, site of the NAIA National Tournament, a collection of the 32 best NAIA teams in the nation including two Sweet 16 showings and an Elite 8 appearance this year should have made that painfully clear.

Two hundred and seventeen coaches applied for the Carroll job, and four made the second to last cut. Then, the center for higher learning in Helena proceeded to operate in buffoonery.

Rumor has it Cunningham earned the edge over Keller by holding a doctorate in history. Well let me give the selection committee a little advice. Education – that which is scribbled on a overpriced sheet of 8.5 by 11 - sometimes may be a little over valued.

Cunningham has coached 50 games in his high school coaching career. FIFTY. Steve Keller has made the Montana Western men’s hoops program one of the best NAIA schools in the nation. Because of him, in my opinion, other sports at the University can continue to be funded. If not for the successes of Keller’s teams, sponsors in tiny little Dillon, Montana, would eventually choose to focus on Beaverhead County High School instead of their institution of higher learning. No sponsors, no money. No money coming in, which there isn’t a lot of anyhow, equals zero exposure. Yet, with little-to-nothing in terms monetary backing, UMW keeps on thriving. And it’s all because of Keller.

Keller managed to recruit one of the best NAIA basketball players of all time in Montana in Brandon Brown, a two-time NAIA All-America player including MVP his senior season in 2011-12. Brown is now playing professionally in Brazil. Keller also managed to land Anaconda’s own Tyler Hurley, a Frontier First Team selection in his senior season, thus being the reason I was able to get to know him, albeit briefly.

Keller has built a support system without the benefit of high dollar sponsors or boosters, but instead by building relationships and knowledge of the recruiting area. He’s a trusted coach who treats high school and AAU coaches with respect and courtesy. Because of this, Keller has defied the odds and continued to build a winner even when history says success cannot be sustained year-in and year-out in small time programs; one’s typically featured in leagues across the nation such as the Frontier Conference.

If I were to speak to the educators and board members who chose education on paper, allegedly, over a man who has won at the same level with honor and integrity, I would tell it to them this way.

No school nor classroom can effectively measure the effectiveness a teacher or mentor has on their pupils. Measuring the human condition – interaction, team building and cognitive thinking – cannot be taught in terms of coaching a sport. This unique skill set must be developed over time through experiences, good and bad. And by that alone, Steve Keller is head and tails above any coach not named Wayne Tinkle in the state of Montana.

Or I could say it this way.

Good luck beating Western now. Too bad you don’t put as much thought, time and effort into your basketball program and its players as you do with the football team. I’m sure that will help in recruiting from now on. Morons.

If I could put my arm on Keller’s shoulder right now, all I would tell him is, “Don’t worry about it sir, you’re better off not being associated with mediocrity.” Because as you and I know, this man is anything but mediocre.

Two years ago when he lost three first team All-Frontier performers in Brown, Hurley and Kyle Erickson, including role guys like Stevensville’s Bridger Chambers, I scoffed at the notion Western would be anywhere but back at the bottom of the barrel. Yet, Keller took a far less talented team and molded them into a bunch of winners who went farther in the NAIA national tourney than even the likes of Whitehall’s Layne Glaus, Brown, Hurley or Erickson could ever take them. That’s pretty remarkable.

But when measured up against a high school coach in Indiana, Keller couldn’t win.

Maybe it was Cunningham’s playing background - he was an All-America freshman point guard at Oregon State who transferred to Purdue and later played under Gene Keady. He has played NCAA ball and has lead teams to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 levels as a Boilermaker, and excelled at every level including a few outings in the now defunct CBA (once an NBA breeding ground for up-and-coming stars such as the NBA D League is now).

But even in my short time as a sportswriter, I know players, even at the highest levels, do not always make good coaches. Sometimes there is a disconnect between them, and often times their ability to play the game at a much higher level results in a struggle between the player(s) they are coaching. Even at the Southwestern A level here in Anaconda and surrounding schools, I’ve watched coaches come and go who’ve excelled in their area of expertise, only to be exposed horribly when pressured with decision making and the art of coaching cohesiveness.

I can say without hesitation, Keller is better off not getting the Carroll job. He’s too good for it. And why he’s not already on a bigger staff as a consultant, recruiting coordinator or assistant just blows me away.

I guess Dillon is the winner in all of this. Just what I need, another winner in that town already chock full of them.

 

Brooke Chapman commits to Hamline University softball

IMG_5516From a Copperhead to a Piper, Brooke Chapman, no matter the mascot, will be continuing her playing career while following her passion in the classroom.

Chapman, the Copperheads’ all time winningest pitcher not to mention career strikeout and ERA record holder, has agreed to join the Hamline University softball team under head coach Jim Rubbleke starting in the fall of 2013.

“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to not only continue playing the game I love, but also get the chance to pursue my degree,” Chapman said, who will be chasing after a bachelors in psychology at Hamline with the eventual goal of earning her masters in clinical psychology.

After a campus visit during this softball season, Rubbleke informed Champman of her status on the team and how they could use her right away, according to the outgoing Copperhead senior.

“He told me I’d be in line to play right away, and that’s more than I could ever ask for,” Chapman said, who added she will be included into the pitching rotation as well as being used as a hitting presence as well. ”(Hamline) is a great fit for me because it allows me to continue playing while also offering exactly what I want in terms of my studies. I’ve always been a student first, and this choice for me was no different.”

Chapman has been a four-year starter for the Copperheads, leading them to their first-, second- and third-consecutive state tournament appearances in her frosh through junior years (2010-12) capped by a Southwestern A conference championship last season – all firsts for the school in competitive girls’ softball. This season, Chapman led the Copperheads to a 4-4 conference record and 9-10-1 overall mark during a brutally tough schedule to notch the fourth-straight state tournament appearance and No. 3 seed out of the Southwestern A.

“Sooner or later, somebody was going to see our progress as a team,” said head coach Dotsie Shafer, who has been with the softball program as an assistant and head coach since its inception. “(Brooke) is one of the better ones to have come through here. I think she will do well, she’s very coachable and adapts to her surroundings.”

Maybe this year’s finish was a little below the expectations of Chapman and her teammates, however the competition in the conference is the best in some time. Nonetheless, Anaconda remains a solid dark horse for a possible place on the medal stand after it’s all said and done.

Chapman has earned a school record 31 wins (31-37) for the Copperheads, who just so happened to have never finished dead last in any softball season before her class arrived at Anaconda High. This year, she broke her school record in Ks (116 set in 2012), and has 118 with still at least two game remaining. Leading up to the weekend, Chapman has thrown an amazing 7,148 pitches wearing the Blue and Silver, and 4,396 have been strikes (61 percent of the time Chapman is in the strike zone). She also has allowed a nice ratio of walks to hits allowing 216 walks and 457 hits during her four years. This year, she’s almost cut her walks allowed in half from any other year, allowing just 32 free passes this season versus a career high 58 as a freshman. All told, her school record 433 strikeouts to date is a mark that may never be approached again.

Her work ethic is like no other, giving up other sports (such as basketball, where she was a team leader in points and rebounds) in order to focus on the game she thought would correlate into a college playing career. And that extensive work has paid off.

“It is extremely fulfilling to see her achieve the goal she set when she was 8-years-old,” said her father and lifelong coach,Tod Chapman, who also doubles as her pitching coach for the Copperheads. ”Her work ethic has earned her the opportunity to play collegiately.”

And knowing that his daughter can parlay her ability on the diamond into getting a quality education like the one offered at Hamline is just the icing on top of an already flavorful cake.

“With Brooke, education was always the primary driver,” Tod said. ”When she was looking at colleges, she would only look at schools that were rated academically selective. It did not matter how they ranked in softball.  It made picking a school much easier for all of us.”

Hamline is an NCAA Division III school and member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). It is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the oldest and first established university in the state according to the Web site.

Because of the distance from home to Hamline, some 1,098 miles according to mapquest.com, not being able to watch Brooke play – something which has never been called into question as her coach and confidant - is going to be a bit of an adjustment.

“It will be difficult, but Hamline University is working on webcasting all their home games, so that will help,” Tod said. “This summer, as they did last summer, both Brooke and her younger sister, Delanie, will be playing for a team that travels all over the west.  While they are playing out of state, I coach my youngest, Erin, around the state. So I only get phone updates on how the games went. Hopefully this experience will help make the transition easier, but I am not counting on it.”

Still, seeing his little girl blossom into the school’s best ever chucker and now a collegiate player due primarily to his dedication to teaching her every aspect of the game – both mechanically and fundamentally - is extremely fulfilling, even if he and his wife, Shawna, will lose a bit of the day-to-day interaction.

“Shawna and I believe she is ready to move on to the next adventure in her life,” he said. ”She has always been mature beyond her years and after our trip to Hamline, we are comfortable with her decision. We expect great things for her, both academically and athletically, but more importantly we believe this is a great opportunity for her to grow.”

Below is a timeline of photos from Brooke as a freshman through her junior year. Congrats on the accomplishment kiddo! We know you will make us extremely proud in Anaconda. Once a Copperhead, always a Copperhead!

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Brooke pitches to a Havre batter in the 2010 Class A State tournament in Billings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brooke as a sophomore for the Copperheads in 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brooke tosses a pitch during the 2012 State tournament at Charlotte Yeoman Martin Sports Complex against Livingston. Photo courtesy R. Dean Hendrickson

 

 

 

 

 

Copperheads set to host Frenchtown in 2013 Class A State softball tournament

Anaconda’s daunting half of the bracket is more than just a little troublesome, however heading into their fourth-straight Class A State softball tournament should lend a little bit of optimism despite the brutally tough draw they received.

The Copperheads will take on Frenchtown at noon on Thursday in Belgrade, and knowing you’re as excited as we are, we will be there even if you can’t.

The Copperheads (9-10-1, 4-4), toting the No. 3-seed out of the Southwestern A, will take on No. 2-seed Frenchtown (19-3, 6-2) of the Northwestern A, one of the two odds-on favorites to reach the title game heading into the tournament. The only reason they aren’t more respected is due to the dominance of Polson (21-1, 8-0), the two-time defending Class A state champion and 2013 Northwestern A regular-season champ.

Frenchtown’s only losses this season came at the hands of Polson in NW-A play and an odd 2-0 upset loss last week to Hamilton. What gives the Copperheads a little hope is the Broncs’ loss to Hamilton (13-8, 7-1), a squad Anaconda split with in SW-A conference play this season.

From our live on-air coverage on the Mighty 580 KANA to our extended iscore sports casts, our committment to Copperhead athletics is as dedicated as our listeners’.

One problem may arise trying to tune in on Thursday. Upgrading the quality of our station has been an ongoing process, and currently the signal has not been up to par while we tweak our station. In case you are having trouble tuning in at home, in your car or at the office, know we are doing everything possible to prepare for a brand new transmitter expected to be installed in the near future. With that being said, our signal is obviously better on the east end of Anaconda - closer to our transmitter located behind Town Pump entering Anaconda from the I-90 interchange.

Just know that even if you can’t hear us loud and clear, you can follow our play-by-play on the sports cast by following the link here.

A win against Frenchtown will put the Copperheads up against Billings Central at 4 p.m. Thursday night while a loss drops them to a noon loser out game Friday. No matter where Anaconda winds up, we will be there live in support of our Copperheads.

Below is a list of the Copperheads batting and pitching stats from the season …

For a complete list of the win-loss records of all the Class A teams in the State tournament, click here

For a printable bracket of the State tournament, click here 2012-13_A_StateSoftballBracket.