MCCOOK — The opening day of the Class B, District 6 Softball Tournament wasn’t a very good one for the Panhandle teams on Thursday in McCook.
Gering, the tournament’s top seed, is the only local team remaining in the field. The Bulldogs lost a 19-18 slugfest to fifth seeded Lexington in the second round, but bounced back with a 21-10 win over Alliance in an elimination game late Thursday night.
Gering will play another elimination game today at 10 a.m. against Cozad. The Bulldogs will have to win four straight games to capture the tournament title.
Scottsbluff and Alliance were both eliminated on Thursday.
The Bearcats, seeded third, played three straight games. After blowing past Alliance 15-4 in the first round, Scottsbluff dropped a 15-5 setback to a tough McCook squad. The Bearcats then had their season ended as Cozad pulled away for a 17-5 win in an elimination game.
Despite being eliminated, Scottsbluff coach Kendall Vogel credited his team for competing strongly throughout the tournament.
“Playing three games in a row was tough,” Vogel said. “The girls competed well and the effort was good. It just wasn’t in the cards for us today.”
Senior Brianna Fliam started all three games in the circle for Scottsbluff. Vogel said Fliam battled and fought hard like she has all season long.
“Bri held up well for us,” Vogel said. “We had Sarah [Cloud] pitch a little bit of the second game against McCook. She did a good job and got some experience. But Bri had to throw a lot of innings and a lot of pitches.”
In Scottsbluff’s win over Alliance in the opening round, Natalie Wooden went 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and two runs batted in. Mikka Salazar finished 2-for-3.
After a 3-3 tie following the first inning, the Bearcats ignited for 12 runs in the next three innings to pull away.
Fliam struck out two in getting the pitching win.
Both teams totaled nine hits each.
Scottsbluff found itself in an early hole against second seeded McCook in the second round after the Bison erupted for six runs in the first. However, the Bearcats answered with four runs of their own in the top of the second to pull within 6-4. But McCook’s offense proved too tough as the Bison scored nine of the game’s next 10 runs to earn the win.
McCook out-hit Scottsbluff 11-7 in the game.
Wooden and Barbara Calvert both paced the Bearcats offensively by going 2-for-3 with a run batted in. Salazar had a two-run single in the second inning and Savanna Betancur had a double in the fourth.
Ally Sheets earned the pitching win for McCook and Fliam took the loss.
The Bearcats again found themselves playing catch up in their game against Cozad after the Haymakers surged out to a 6-1 lead through two innings. But Scottsbluff again put together a nice rally by scoring four times in the third to pull within 6-5.
After scoring one run in the fifth, Cozad broke the game open with 10 runs in the sixth.
The Haymakers pounded out 16 hits to the Bearcats’ seven.
Salazar led Scottsbluff offensively by going 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs batted in. Zoey Rada went 2-for-2 with a run batted in. Lexi Webber finished with a triple and Wooden had a double.
Fliam struck out two in the loss. She finished the season with a record of 14-15.
After saying goodbye to a number of experienced and talented seniors from last year’s district-winning team, the Bearcats managed to post 15 wins this season to finish with an overall record of 15-18. Scottsbluff will lose eight seniors.
“It was a good season,” Vogel said. “We knew it was going to be tough coming in with limited pitching. But Bri did really well for us all year and we had eight seniors who improved a lot during their careers. We’ll miss them. Overall, I thought it was a successful year.”
Alliance 301 0 — 4 9 4
Scottsbluff 343 5 — 15 9 1
WP — Brianna Fliam. LP — Caitlyn Guthmiller.
3B — Natalie Wooden.
Scottsbluff 040 1 — 5 7 0
McCook 642 3 — 15 11 0
WP — Ally Sheets. LP — Fliam.
2B — Savanna Betancur.
Cozad 240 01(10) — 17 16 1
Scottsbluff (15-18) 104 000 — 5 7 5
LP — Fliam (14-15).
3B — Mikka Salazar, Lexi Webber. 2B — Wooden.