Softball hopes to rebound from rare finish


This year marks the 20th season for Wayne High softball, and this year’s team will be looking to do something only one team has done in the program’s history — bounce back from a season that DIDN’T end with a trip to state.

Last year’s team went 20-9 and lost in the district finals to Grand Island Central Catholic, marking the first time since 2006 that a Blue Devils softball team failed to make the trip to Hastings for the Nebraska State Softball Championships.

This year’s team returns eight of nine starters from last year, and coach Rob Sweetland is hoping the team can make that return back to Hastings this October.

“We have eight starters back, and we’re the smallest team in Class B but it will be our goal to get to another district final and qualify for state,” Sweetland said.

The Blue Devils will be led by senior pitcher Kendall Dorey, who struck out 224 in 145 innings and had a 2.80 earned run average last season. She also led the team at the plate, batting .512 with 46 RBI’s.

Fellow seniors back in the lineup include infielders Taytum Sweetland (.343, 19 RBI), Mikaela McManigal (.329, 15 RBI), and Brianna Nissen (.286, 23 RBI) and lefthanded outfielder Virginia Kniesche (.321, 15 RBI). 

Underclassmen starters who are back include junior shortstop Brooklyn Kruse (.362, 29 RBI) and sophomore outfielder Kierah Haase (.314, 6 RBI).

Players who are expected to make a contribution in the lineup this season include junior Logan Miller, sophomore Delaney Kruse and freshman Taytem Ellis.

The Blue Devils open the season Thursday at Blair, and will host their annual Blue Devil Classic on Saturday at the Wayne Softball Complex.