HASTINGS – Wayne High softball coach Rob Sweetland wasn’t surprised by what he saw from the Hastings offense.
The Tigers hit two long home runs, one of them a grand slam, and limited the Blue Devils to a single hit in posting a 9-1 win to open play in the Class B division of the Nebraska State Softball Championships at the Smith Softball Complex.
“They’re a good team and one through nine they can all swing it,” he said after the game. “You’re going to give up some hits here and there, but you can’t give up free bases and that kind of hurt us.”
Hastings broke the ice with two runs in the second inning. A walk and an error put two runners in scoring position, and Erin Hunt stroked a double to left center to bring home both runs to give the Tigers the early 2-0 advantage.
The wheels fell off for Wayne in the third. A sacrifice fly and a hit batter with the bases loaded brought home two runs, and Ellie McCoy cleared the bases with a towering grand slam homer to right to make it 8-0.
Hastings added another run in the fourth on Elle Douglas’ solo blast to left, but Wayne was able to avoid the shutout with a run in the top of the fifth. Kortney Keller walked to lead off the inning and Josie Thompson came on to run for her. Jamie Gamble followed with another walk and Ashten Gibson lashed a double to left – which was Wayne’s lone hit in the game – bringing home Thompson with the Blue Devils’ only run.
“She’s the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Sweetland said of Hastings’ hurler Olivia Douglas, who threw a one-hitter and struck out six. “She had a good changeup and a good rise ball and was coming inside on us, and we weren’t able to get the barrel out and turn on those pitches. Hopefully we’ll learn from it and make some adjustments.”
The 27-5 Blue Devils will face North Platte in a 9 a.m. elimination game on Thursday, and Sweetland is hopeful his team can bounce back.
“We were able to finish this game on a good note, so hopefully we can come back and get something done,” he said.