HASTINGS, Neb. — Hastings finally got past its second-round struggles and Omaha Skutt continued its pursuit of perfection Wednesday at the Class B tournament.
Four previous times the Tigers have won their opening state tournament game only to lose the next game and have to battle through the elimination bracket. That hurdle was cleared with a 6-2 victory over Wahoo at the Smith Softball Complex.
Third baseman Kaelan Schultz, who broke the all-class career record for home runs with a pair of round-trippers against the Warriors, said getting to 2-0 was a big step.
“It’s really important for us because it’s the first time in school history,” Schultz said. “We’ve been working so hard, and I’m so proud of every single one of us, because we all contributed tonight. It’s really big for us to have one game guaranteed tomorrow and come out strong.”
Hastings will play Skutt in Thursday’s winners bracket game after the SkyHawks defeated Bennington 5-1. Skutt is now 31-0 and two victories from the first undefeated season in the 25 years of Class B softball.
Washington commit Ruby Meylan scattered three hits and struck out 14 with one walk to improve to 16-0. The SkyHawks also hit five home runs, one each by Meylan, Hannah Camenzind and Paige Roessner along with two by Lauren Camenzind.
The winner of that game earns a berth to Friday’s 2 p.m. championship.
The first home run Schultz hit was a shot that hit the base of the permanent fence on Field 4 300 feet from the plate.
That was homer No. 64 and RBIs 209 and 210 for the South Dakota State commit. She added one more to each of those totals with a leadoff home run in the top of the sixth that kicked off a three-run inning for the Tigers.
Schultz said it was nice to get the record in the state tournament. She now has 22 this season after hitting 17 homers as a freshman, 10 as a sophomore and 15 in her junior season when the Tigers finished as Class B runner-up.
“It means everything because we have been working so hard this year,” Schultz said. “Everyone’s here watching. A lot of people from my family are here watching. It’s a very special moment to be surrounded by the community.”
Tiger coach Ashley Speak said those early runs were nice to create some space and take a bit of pressure off ace Faith Molina, who gave up one hit and struck out 14.”
And she said having Schultz get the career home run record on the big stage was appropriate.
“She deserves it,” Speak said. “She’s been busting her rear end the whole season. She’s done a nice job being patient at the plate after getting walked so many times. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating.”
Teams repeatedly intentional walked Schultz, even when they were ahead 11-0 or 12-0. That’s been the worst part of the record chase for Schultz, who entered the tournament with a .598 batting average.
“At least when it’s multiple times around,” Schultz said. “Once is like, OK. When it’s multiple times after that, it’s (frustrating).”
Hastings and Skutt played once in the regular season, in the championship game of the Hastings Invitational that the SkyHawks won 1-0.
“Class B is tough and it’s not going to get any easier,” Skutt coach Keith Englekamp said.
Norris (17-15)..............000 003 2—5 6 3
Omaha Skutt (30-0).....230 113 x—10 5 2
W-Hannah Camenzind (15-0). L-Tegan Bade (1-2). 2B-N, Alexis Bishoff, McKenna Becher; OS, Lauren Camenzind, Hannah Camenzind. HR-OS, Ruby Meylan.
Grand Island Northwest (27-8)....300 112 0—7 13 4
Bennington (26-4).........................440 030 x—11 8 0
W-Daisy Lowther (23-4). L-Ava Laurent (19-7). 2B-GINW, Avyn Urbanski. HR-B, Maddie Scobee, Lowther, Abi Brown.
Scottsbluff (29-8).....121 10—5 11 0
Wahoo (28-3)............363 01—13 16 0
W-Jaiden Swanson (13-0). L-Elizabeth Fuss (13-6). 2B-S, Taryn Spady, Zoey Paez; W, Swanson, Abigail Borchers, Katelyn Urban, Autumn Iversen. HR-S, Spady, Mariyah Avila; W, Swanson, Harper Hancock, Kylee Kenning, Sidney Smart.
Elkhorn (17-15).....101 00—2 5 3
Hastings (33-4)......370 1x—11 10 1
W-Faith Molina (18-4). L-Claire Nuismer (11-6). 2B-H, Peytin Hudson, Delaney Mullen, Molina. 3B-H, Emma Landgren. HR-H, Mckinsey Long.
Bennington (26-5)…000 010 0 – 1 3 3
Omaha Skutt (31-0)…101 024 x – 8 7 0
W-Ruby Meylan (16-0). L-Daisy Lowther (23-5). HR-B, Cheyenne Flynn; OS, Lauren Camenzind (2), Paige Roessner, Hannah Camenzind, Meylan.
Wahoo (28-4)…000 020 0 – 2 1 1
At Hastings (34-4)…003 003 x – 6 8 1
W-Faith Molina (19-4). L-Autumn Iversen (14-4). HR-W, Kylee Kenning; H, Kaelan Schultz (2).