HASTINGS — It took a little longer than planned, but the Wayne Dirt Devils 16/18-under team claimed the Class C USSSA state softball title Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over the Polk County Slammers.
After winning their first three games of the three-day tournament over Columbus Bullets (4-3), Lawrence (2-1) and McCook Force (8-0), the Dirt Devils reached the finals with a 5-4 win over the Nebraska Krush team out of Kearney. The Krush were edged 3-2 by the Slammers, putting the Polk County team in the finals needing two wins over the Dirt Devils.
Polk County came out with momentum from their win and limited the Dirt Devils to just four hits, posting a 5-0 win to force a winner-take-all matchup.
Polk County took advantage of a walk and a couple of errors to get on the board early in the championship, but Wayne came right back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning when Rachel Hobbs led off with a double and scored on a single by Taytum Sweetland.
The game stayed tied until the fourth, when Hope O’Reilly led off the inning with a single and scored the go-ahead run on a base hit by Nicole Fertig, giving the Dirt Devils a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth, Brooklyn Kruse broke out of a weekend-long slump with rocket that carried over the left field wall, giving Wayne an insurance run before the time limit was reached, giving 17-8 Wayne the state title.
Sweetland and Fertig each had two hits to lead Wayne’s nine-hit attack. Kendall Dorey went the distance, striking out 11 and allowing two hits and one walk.
For several members of this Dirt Devils team, it is their fourth state title, including a 10-under state championship in 2015 and back-to-back state high school titles in 2018 and 2019.
Complete coverage in this week’s edition of The Wayne Herald.
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