Brody Ayers Gallatin Valley.jpg

Gallatin Valley shortstop Brody Ayers throws the ball to first for a put out against Belgrade earlier this season.

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The Gallatin Valley Outlaws enter the Southern A District Tournament this week as the No. 2 seed following a long but rewarding summer schedule.

The Outlaws are 48-19 overall, and their 67 total games easily outpaced the rest of the district. They made it through district play with a 15-5 mark, the same as Butte, but Gallatin Valley earned the second seed thanks to winning the season series with the Miners.

Outlaws manager Duwayne Scott said the team’s heavy and difficult non-district schedule has prepared the players for what comes next.

“We played some really good teams all summer, including a lot of AA programs from all over the country really,” Scott said. “We did that to make sure our guys are ready for when we step out of our district and play … some of the top (A) programs that we may not see during the summer, teams we may not see until the state tournament if we qualify.”

The Outlaws play at 5 p.m. Thursday against No. 7 seed Anaconda in Livingston. If they win there, they’ll play at 5 p.m. Friday against the winner of Butte and sixth-seeded Bozeman A.

To reach this point in the season, Scott points to Gallatin Valley’s starting pitching — a group that includes Bo Hays, Patrick Dietz, Mayson Shively, Brody Ayers and Brandon Beedie. They have provided a steady presence on the mound all season.

“Between those five guys, their ERA combined is, like, under 2.5,” Scott said. “They’ve been really good for us. It starts by them throwing strikes and our defense playing behind them.”

The team’s deep lineup has been impressively consistent, as well.

Brady Jones occupies the leadoff spot with his nearly .500 on-base percentage, and he is followed by Isaac Richardson, Cyrus Richardson, Josh Wisecarver, Ayers and Hays.

“Those guys, they just drive in runs,” Scott said. “They have very good approaches at the plate, and we trust them all. … When your 3-6 guys hit almost .400, you’re going to have a lot of success.

“We just have some really good athletes in the middle of that lineup that always seemed to have quality (at-bats).”

For the team to keep its strong season going and qualify for next week’s state tournament in Havre, Scott said the team will have to play error-free defense to back up its pitchers. Controlling games from the mound, Scott said, was a key component to securing a high seed.

“Our pitching has kind of almost led us into this,” he said.

Another powerful motivator, Scott said, is the team’s memory of how last season ended — third place at state following a loss to Lewistown. Making up for that ending has been a team goal.

“These guys had kind of a bad taste in their mouth after that game,” Scott said. “They’ve been really dedicated since January to make sure that this summer was successful.”

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Parker Cotton can be reached at pcotton@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton.

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