ANACONDA – Three games kicked off the 44th annual Goosetown Softball Tournament, Friday, in what is expected to be another fun-filled and memorable weekend for players, family members and fans.
Men’s teams from Butte, Billings, Helena and Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, as well as a couple of women’s teams from Anaconda got things started with games which featured their own degrees of difficulty.
While frustration was evident on the faces of some Car Mart 360 (Billings) players after their loss to B-Town Heroes (Idaho), players from both dugouts in the women’s game were all smiles after a somewhat sloppy but close game.
The two scenes epitomized the driving factors that have made this tournament a success through the years.
A Good Team, an Anaconda squad primarily made up of friends in their late-teens, gave Goosetown Girls a pretty good challenge before coming up with the first loss of the weekend.
“This is the first time I’ve done it,” said Haley Davis, a member of A Good Team. “I had fun, even though we lost. I think it’s more important to have fun. I don’t really care about winning.”
Goosetown Girls scored the win over A Good Team, which is already a step in the right direction from last year. The same team went two-and-out in last year’s Goosetown Tournament.
“The key to winning? Probably staying sober,” said Billy Jo Jovanovich, who pitched for Goosetown Girls.
A Good Team showed that it has the talent to become a better team. Friday’s effort was highlighted by a diving catch of a blooper into shallow right field by Felicity Kulaski.
“I’m friends with some of the other people on the team so when they asked, I said ‘Yeah’ because it gives me a chance to get closer to them,” said Kulaski, who traded her softball glove for a tennis racket during her freshman year at Anaconda High School.
The men’s opening games featured a lot more pressure to come out ahead. The B-Town Heroes were motivated by the bracket itself, which shows the losing team having to travel to Butte for its next game.
“We don’t want to go to Butte,” said Osa Orison, who pitched the Idaho team to victory. “We want to stay right here; close to camp. We don’t want to travel back and forth.”
One person who makes the annual trek to Anaconda – and doesn’t even play in the tournament – is Angie Zobrak. The Las Vegas schoolteacher is from Anaconda and took part in the tournament in thee past. She offered to help out this weekend and tournament director Bill Hill asked her to run the concessions at the sports complex with her kids.
“I think it brings people here,” Zobrak said of the tournament. “The town needs it.
“I think Bill is organized and I think that’s important. He runs a good show. I don’t know what it costs to be in this tournament but I’m sure it’s reasonable. It’s fun.”
Zobrak thought back to the days when she used to play in the Goosetown Tournament and enjoyed the perks that came with playing.
“You meet new friends,” she said. “You find people from across the state and you keep in contact with them. You run into them at other tournaments. People I played with in high school are here, people that I knew in college.
“I think they keep coming and I think it’s because it’s a good experience. There is no negativity. There is no fighting. Everyone is here for a good time. I think that’s a part of it. I enjoy it. Every year, we go watch the Home Run Derby with the kids. Those kinds of activities are fun for the kids to watch. It’s family friendly.”
The win-at-all costs players and teams will always have a place at Goosetown. So will those that see fun as the focus. One of the unique things about Goosetown is in its ability to accommodate those in both camps.
“It’s about having fun,” Orison said with a chuckle. “And winning.”