HASTINGS, Neb. — One more complete team victory Friday powered Omaha Skutt to its second Class B state softball championship.
The bottom two-thirds of the SkyHawks’ lineup scratched out the two runs needed in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 2-1 victory against York at the Smith Softball Complex.
Skutt had not faced a left-handed pitcher in its first 31 games. And the first it saw was one of the state’s best pitchers.
York ace Taylor Kadavy, who battled lower-back pain and spasms much of the tournament, limited the SkyHawks to three hits. But Skutt ace Kaylan Jablonski was just as effective, holding the Dukes to five hits and one run.
Jablonski, a Nebraska recruit, has been the workhorse for the 28-4 SkyHawks much of the season, and the past four seasons. She was backed by an opportunistic offense in producing the school’s second state title in three years.
“We just put the ball in play at the end, and they made some uncharacteristic errors,” Skutt coach Keith Engelkamp said. “This was another game where we needed everyone to contribute, and they did.”
The Dukes earned their first berth in the state championship game by eliminating Blair earlier Friday.
York jumped ahead of Skutt in the top of the third by stringing together three singles.
Second baseman Veronica Botts got things started with a one-out single to center. Botts then moved to second on a single by left fielder Morgan Meyer.
Leadoff hitter Hannah Riley got Botts home with a single to left. It was the seventh RBI of the tournament for the senior center fielder.
Despite her back problems, Kadavy kept hitters off balance most of the game.
“When we both found out it was not an injury that could get any worse, she wanted to keep going,” York coach Danyel Seevers said. “She was having massive back spasms, especially on her right side. She kept getting it worked on after every inning.
“I made a decision to take her out of hitting. She’s not very happy with me right now because she wasn’t hitting, but we needed her to pitch. She showed the most guts I’ve seen from any player in any sport.”
York’s one-run lead held until the bottom of the seventh. The SkyHawks got the two runs needed despite getting the ball out of the infield only once.
That ball was hit by catcher Allyssa Stevens. Her single down the right field line landed right on the chalk about 20 feet beyond the infield dirt.
Then an infield line drive by first baseman Calli Wiseman tipped off the glove of York shortstop Jordyn Stearns, allowing Wiseman to reach first. Kathryn Lanzante — the courtesy runner for Stevens — moved to second.
Third baseman Caley Barker then loaded the bases with a single to the left side of the infield. Lanzante moved to third and Emma Osowski, running for Wiseman, was at second.
Right fielder Madison Hasz then sent a one-hopper toward Dukes third baseman Atlanta Maronde, but her throw home to get Lanzante was dropped by catcher Adrienne Gocke as Lanzante slid across the plate.
With the score tied 1-1 with two outs, No. 9 hitter Kristin McGonigal sent a one-hopper to Maronde, and it was déjà vu all over again. The throw home was dropped, Osowski was safe and it was time for Skutt to celebrate.
Jablonski and Stevens hugged and cried for several minutes.
“Everyone did their part,” Jablonski said. “Everyone stepped up.”
The way Skutt won — and the fact its Jablonski’s senior year — made this title just a bit sweeter for her.
“It’s just awesome,” Jablonski said. “The first time it was just so new. This being our senior year, it means so much to me and Alyssa.”
York (36-3) ............................ 001 000 0—1 5 3
At Omaha Skutt (28-4) ............................ 000 000 2—2 3 0
W: Kaylan Jablonski. L: Taylor Kadavy.
York 9, Blair 7
The Dukes broke a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run single by Stearns that drove in Morgan Meyer and Hannah Riley, who was 4 for 4 with two runs scored. Riley and Stearns both had doubles, and Stearns finished with three hits.