As anticipated, there were some big offensive numbers put up over the course of the three-day state softball tournament.
There are usually a handful of lopsided games in the first round, and that once again was the case this year. But high-scoring games went deeper into all three tournaments, including two of the championship finals.
Lincoln Southwest secured its fourth state softball title with a 16-7 victory over Lincoln East, while Omaha Skutt scored 12 runs in the top of the first inning on the way to a 14-2, three-inning win over Hastings.
Class C had the most competitive sets of games on Thursday and Friday. The winners bracket games all were competitive and well-pitched, and the scores remained in single digits.
Yutan/Mead’s last two games in Thursday’s elimination bracket were big wins — 15-4 and 14-4 — before the Patriots fell to Wahoo Neumann 6-0 in the title game.
Another element that may have helped some of the home runs hit Wednesday was the strongest winds anyone who has been to all 15 state tournaments in Hastings could remember.
That thought was confirmed by the National Weather Service in Hastings, which is located roughly 1 mile west of the Smith Softball Complex.
The strongest gust of wind Wednesday was recorded at 48 mph. That may have accounted for an extra home run or two during the first three rounds — the winds were much calmer by 5 p.m.
A few balls bounced and hit the permanent fences 300 feet from home plate. Temporary fences 200 feet from home plate are set up every year for this tournament, along with regular-season and invitational tournaments played throughout the season.
Skutt in elite company
Here’s one for softball fans to chew on during the offseason in anticipation for the 2022 campaign that will be the 30th sanctioned season for the sport.
The list of teams that can be considered for the best in state history was a short one entering this season. That list grew by one on Friday when Omaha Skutt became the first team in the 25 years of Class B play to finish the season undefeated.
There are plenty of Papillion-La Vista zealots passionate enough about the Monarchs who will be offended I even broached the subject. I’m not interested in hearing those voices.
I’m also not taking sides between Papio 2020, or even Papio 2019, and Skutt 2021. Before this three-year streak of undefeated teams, only Wayne in Class C (2004, 2018) had posted undefeated records.
Each team needs to be considered on its own merits; this isn’t a dynasty discussion. When a program wins 10 consecutive state championships, then picks up six more over the next 15 years, that’s settled.
There also can be more than one dynasty, just as there also can be more than one GOAT team depending on your perspective. One area where the SkyHawks could make a case for themselves is their batting order. One through nine, it might be deeper than the two Papio teams.
Both programs play challenging schedules every year. This year Skutt played 20 Class B games — including the four in the state tournament — and 13 Class A opponents.
The SkyHawks defeated Class A champion Lincoln Southwest 4-0 and No. 3 Gretna 4-3 in the same September tournament. Omaha Marian, Papio, North Platte, Fremont and Elkhorn South were some of the other top-shelf A programs Skutt played this season.
Then the SkyHawks did what a dominant team is supposed to do — quickly dispatch of opponents not on their level. Papio did that as well each of the past two seasons.
This season Skutt outscored its 16 Class B regular-season opponents 153-5. That’s an average score of 9.56 to 0.31 per game. Add in the four tournament games and Skutt outscored its 20 opponents 199-17 (9.95 to 0.85).
It’s important for the record to document these kinds of figures. Papio’s accomplishments have been well-documented in these pages, as well.
Matching her mother
Lincoln Southwest freshman outfielder Reagan Vokoun can put on a wider smile at the family dinner table after the Silver Hawks defeated Lincoln East for the Class A title.
Vokoun now has the same number of softball gold medals as her mother, who in the mid-1990s was a Lincoln Southeast pitcher named Cori Sampson.
Silver Hawks coach Mark Watt sent me a text about 90 minutes before kickoff of Saturday’s Nebraska-Minnesota game while I was riding the Minneapolis light rail system from the airport to Huntington Bank Stadium.
Sampson, now Cori Vokoun, was one of the two primary pitchers for the Knights when they won Southeast’s lone state title in 1994. That was the second year the sport was sanctioned by the NSAA.
Reagan Vokoun has three more tries to pass mom for number of titles won. With only five seniors leaving the Southwest roster, that could happen sooner than later.
Note to coaches: Head coaches were emailed their All-Nebraska and All-Class softball ballots on Oct. 11 and 12. If you didn’t receive the links to those ballots in your email, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get those to you. The deadline for submitting ballots is Oct. 22 at 5 p.m.