by nathan oster
The Lovell Mustangs sport a 4-16 record at the midway point of their American Legion season, but their skipper, Steven Durtsche, feels the team has the horses to make a run all the way to the state tournament.
“We’re getting better, starting to find ourselves a little bit,” said Durtsche, whose team is relying heavily on the contributions of four imports from Greybull: Calder Forcella, Dawson Forcella, Justin Bacus and Riley Hill.
From that group come players Durtsche described as the team’s “best hitter” (Dawson Forcella), “best pitcher” (Calder Forcella), “primary catcher” (Bacus) and “up-and-coming manchild” (Hill).
“Those Greybull boys, they are huge for us,” said Durtsche.
Dawson Forcella, a sophomore-to-be at GHS, has excelled at catcher in the past, but has seen his starts at that position limited by injuries. Instead he’s found his way into the lineup by playing a solid third base as well as some first.
His biggest contribution, though, has come with the stick. He’s played in all 20 games for the Mustangs and ranks among the team leaders in batting average (.321), doubles (three), and runs batted in (four).
“When he gets up there, you know he’s going to hit the ball,” Durtsche said of Dawson, who has primarily hit third in the Mustangs lineup.
Calder Forcella, a GHS senior, hasn’t gotten off to a fast start with the bat — through 20 games, he’s hitting .231 — but he’s contributed in other ways. For example, he leads the team in runs scored (12). “His stick’s starting to come around,” said Durtsche, who has used Calder all over in the batting lineup, including leadoff and clean-up.
Calder’s making his biggest mark as the team’s top pitcher and starting shortstop.
He has two of the Mustang’s four wins and has the best numbers on the staff. In 28 innings of work, he’s surrendered 33 hits but walked only six to go along with 19 strikeouts. His ERA of 2.00 ranks first on the team.
Bacus has “been really big for us,” said Durtsche. “He’s had to catch pretty much every game, and without him, I honestly don’t know what we’d do. We can rely on him to catch — and to be a utility player, too.” Bacus has been credited with six hits, but he’s made the most of them, as he leads the team in RBIs with five.
Bacus, like Calder Forcella a senior-to-be at GHS, has done some pitching as well. He has thrown 7.1 innings, giving up nine earned runs on eight hits.
Riley Hill has been a pleasant surprise. Just 14, he’s one of the youngest players on the team, which in American Legion competition faces squads made up primarily of kids between the ages of 15 and 19.
“He’s a manchild, in that when he hits the ball, it goes a mile,” said Durtsche. “He’s got a lot of power, he’s played some third base and outfield for us and we’re still hoping to get his pitching arm in shape. Seeing a lot of good things from Riley.”
The district tournament will be held later this month in Cody.
Teams will be gunning for berths in the state tournament.
Durtsche believes his team is going to be a factor.
“I definitely think we have a team that can make it to state,” he said.
The key to success is going to be “defense, defense, defense. It’s what’s won ballgames for us and lost ballgames for us. When we’ve won, we’ve been solid in the field. When we haven’t, there have usually been one or two errors that have killed us.”