HASTINGS, Neb. — As the top-ranked team worked its way back through the elimination bracket of the 20th Class C tournament, a newcomer landed safely into Friday’s championship game.
Kearney Catholic took advantage of nine Wahoo Neumann errors Thursday and held off a comeback attempt by the Cavaliers to earn a 10-7 winners bracket victory.
Neumann will meet top-ranked West Point GACC in an 11:30 a.m. elimination game at the Smith Softball Complex, with the winner earning a berth in the 2 p.m. championship game.
The Cavaliers or the Bluejays would have to defeat the 30-5 Stars twice to win the championship.
Stars coach Jon Ruyle said getting off to another fast start is exactly what he hoped his team would do. Kearney Catholic scored eight runs in the first three innings, but they needed that cushion as Neumann scored twice in the bottom of the first and three times in the top of the third inning.
“It’s been intentional,” Ruyle said. “We’ve really had to focus on getting the bats started right away because I’m not very good at winning coin tosses, so we’ve visitor quite a bit in the tournament setting.
“We just understand how important it is to play ahead. Playing against quality teams like this, it just makes the road that much more difficult, so we put an emphasis on playing from the front.”
Kearney Catholic got the job done without an extra base hit. All 10 of the Stars hits were singles.
Neumann scored another run in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 8-6 before Kearney Catholic scratched out its final two runs.
Winning pitcher Bralen Biddlecome reached on an error in the sixth inning and scored on a single by Jacee Nore. Catcher Alexis Keim reached base when she was hit by a pitch. She eventually scored on a Cavaliers error for the Stars final run.
While all of this championship game stuff is new for the Stars, Ruyle promised they will be ready to compete.
“What we do is we stay ourselves,” Ruyle said. “We focused on the motto that we’ve had all year long is anybody, anytime, anywhere. So if somebody wants to go square up in the parking lot, we’re going to go grab bats and go. We got to take the same approach tomorrow.”
Kearney Cath. (30-5).......242 002 0—10 9 3
Neumann (27-8)..............203 011 0— 7 8 9
W: Bralen Biddlecome. L: Macy Sabatka. 2B: WN, Aubrey Sylliaasen, Mary Chvatal. HR: WN, Hattie Bohac.
WP GACC (26-3)..........420 012—9 13 2
Fairbury (26-9)...........001 000—1 2 2
W: Erin Franzluebber. L: Jami Mans. 2B: GACC, Kayla Fischer; F, Aspen DeFrain. HR: GACC, Jenna Schinstock (2).
GICC (24-10)............410 004 0—9 11 1
Crete (21-12)...........201 200 1—6 16 3
W: Andrea Pamer. L: Alexis Mach. 2B, GICC, Alexis Mudloff, Kiernan Paulk, Boston Boucher; C, Karlee Henning, Jordyn Coe. HR, GICC, Palma; C, Leah Jurgens, Mach.
Elkhorn (22-13)......102 001 1—5 9 2
Seward (24-10)......000 000 0—0 2 1
W: Megan Garcia. L: Sydney Parra. 2B: E, Nyleigh Carbaugh. 3B: E, Mackenzie Madrigal.
All-Nebraska softball teams since 2010
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