HASTINGS, Neb. — Lincoln Southwest’s battery was fully charged in Thursday’s Class A state softball tournament winners bracket game.
Pitcher Bailey Selvage and catcher Madison Divis were operating at optimal levels throughout the No. 1-ranked Silver Hawks’ 8-0, five-inning victory over No. 2 Gretna.
Selvage has become the postseason pitcher every coach wants in the circle — someone who gets tougher to hit as the game moves along. The senior struck out nine Gretna hitters and allowed one hit, a first-inning single through the left side of the infield by Kalee Higdon.
“When she’s on her game like that, she’s tough to beat,” Southwest coach Mark Watt said. “She threw really well; she threw lights out. She’s hitting her spots and throwing the pitches right where I’m calling them.”
Gretna coach Bill Heard said Selvage made things difficult on the Dragons (29-6) the entire game.
“Her plan wasn’t overly complicated, but she really competed,” Heard said. “She hits spots, she was really good tonight. Hats off to her, she beat us.”
Then there was Divis at the plate. The senior catcher went 4 for 4, including a home run to right field that drove in the final two runs to end the game two innings early.
“You can’t predict 4 for 4 against a high-quality opponent like that,” Watt said. “She’s really been picking it up lately. At one point I put her down to sixth in the lineup because she was really struggling, but she’s right back up to the three hole.”
Southwest will play the winner of Friday’s 11:30 a.m. elimination game between Gretna and Lincoln East. After losing 14-4 to Papillion-La Vista in Wednesday’s first round, the Spartans battled back and won three games Thursday.
“It’s the position everybody wants to be in,” Watt said. “It’s challenging, but they showed it could be done.”
East eliminated Norfolk 8-2 before holding off a late charge by Millard North for a 9-7 victory. The Mustangs finished their season 23-11 while Norfolk ended its first trip to state in 15 years with a 28-16 record.
The final elimination game was a rematch with the Monarchs. A three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning by No. 9 hitter Sydney McReynolds to right field erased a 4-2 deficit and proved to be the game-winning hit for the 34-9 Spartans.
Papio eliminated Millard South 6-2 after the Patriots ended Papillion-La Vista South’s season with a 16-8 win in Thursday’s first round. Both Papio and the Patriots finished 23-12.
The Silver Hawks will be making their seventh appearance in the championship game. Southwest is 3-3 in title game appearances and last won a state championship in 2018. East finished as runner-up in 2006, and Gretna was Class B champion in 2015 and runner-up the following season.
“We were definitely ready today,” Watt said. “You’d like to take advantage of your opportunities. I knew yesterday Papillion left 14 on (against Gretna) and I didn’t want to be saying that today.”
Southwest took the lead in the bottom of the second inning against Gretna. Singles by Taylor Korecky, Mackenzie Mlnarik and Reagan Vokoun — all to left field off starter Morgan Secora — loaded the bases for right fielder Anna Reiling.
Reiling rolled a ground ball back to Secora, who elected to go for the out and first base instead of the force play at home plate.
The Silver Hawks scored their second run in the third inning. Divis led off with a double to center field, a hit that made Heard decide to bring in Allison McGee for Secora.
A wild pitch by McGee allowed freshman pinch-runner Mary Beth Hart to advance to third base. Taylor Coleman hit a sharp line drive to shortstop that Ensley Frame bobbled, allowing Coleman to safely reach first base and bring Hart home.
Southwest doubled its lead in the fourth. The frame began with a triple to right field by speedy sophomore shortstop Kennadi Williams, who then came home on a single to right by Divis. An infield single by Taylor Fritz moved Divis to second before a two-out single by Korecky plated Divis for a 4-0 lead.
Anna Reiling coaxed a one-out walk from Secora before Nebraska commit Ashley Smetter belted a two-run home run to right field. Williams drew a walk and scored on Divis’ game-ending homer.
“We were pretty fortunate to be down 3-0,” Heard said. “They missed some opportunities and kind of hung in there. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. I guess it’s pretty simple; if you can’t score, you can’t win.
“I told the kids there’s three teams playing tomorrow (and) we’re one. We’re still looking forward to it. Championship Friday is a special deal, and we have a chance to go.”
Papillion-La Vista South (14-18)....023 120—8 11 3
Millard South (23-11)....................631 303—16 17 2
W: Jessie Bestenlehner (17-10). L: Abigail Dworak (7-6). 2B: PLVS, Avery Hinkle, Kinsley Stover, Baylor Gregory; MS, Neveah Williams, Jalyn Noelle, Bestenlehner. HR: PLVS, Grace Maguire; MS, Williams, Emorie Swanson, Amari Laing.
Lincoln East (32-9)....100 204 1—8 13 0
Norfolk (28-16)..........000 001 1—2 3 1
W: Jordan Bussey (13-1). L: Jessica Schmidt (20-11). 2B: LE, Sydney Walz; LE, Emerson Waldow. HR: LE, Morgan Adams, Madison Adams, Walz.
Millard South (23-12)............000 001 1—2 4 2
Papillion-La Vista (23-11)......501 000 x—6 10 0
W: Grace Anderson (9-5). L: Andrea McGargill (4-2).
Millard North (23-11)...012 112 0—7 11 2
Lincoln East (33-9).......430 011 x—9 11 0
W: Campbell Petrick (15-3). L: Desi Cuevas (19-10). 2B: MN, Maci Riedl, Katherine Johnson. HR: LE, Morgan Adams, Berkley Hatten, Sydney Walz.
Gretna (29-6).......................000 00—0 1 1
Lincoln Southwest (39-6).....011 24—8 11 1
W: Bailey Selvage (17-4). L: Morgan Secora (8-1). 2B: LSW, Madison Divis. 3B: LSW, Kennadi Williams. HR: LSW, Divis, Ashley Smetter.
Lincoln East (34-9).................010 013 0—5 8 2
Papillion-La Vista (23-12)......201 100 0—4 7 2
W: Jordan Bussey. L: Amanda Gibilsco. 2B: LE, Morgan Adams. HR: LE, Mya Zavala, Sydney McReynolds, Kyndal Colin. PLV, Alexandria Stoner.
Hastings finally got past its second-round struggles and Omaha Skutt successfully continued its pursuit of perfection Wednesday at the Class B state softball tournament.