Before rain reappeared late Saturday morning at the Dill Softball Complex, Millard West and Millard South took advantage of five errors by their opponents to earn victories in semifinal games at the Omaha Marian Invitational.
Millard West scored eight runs in the second inning of a 9-4 victory over Papillion-La Vista, while the Patriots scored three times in the fourth inning en route to a 4-0 win over Papillion-La Vista South. Both games reached only the fifth inning because of the 90-minute time limit for tournament games.
Omaha Burke and Bellevue West won consolation bracket games Saturday morning before rain wiped out the chance to play the first-, third-, fifth- and seventh-place games.
While those games won’t be rescheduled, Tuesday’s regular-season matchup between two top-five teams can unofficially serve as the tournament’s title game.
No. 5 Millard South, the defending Class A state champion, hosts top-ranked Millard West at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Both Patriots coach Steve Kerkman and Wildcats skipper Don Brummer said it will be fun to have an extra dose of off-the-record stakes for the important early-season game.
“It makes it a lot more fun,” Brummer said. “That’s what you play for, these types of games.”
The Wildcats (4-0) started their eight-run second inning with a leadoff double by catcher Marisa Graslewicz. Designated player Faith Cain sacrificed Alyssa Beal — the courtesy runner for Graslewicz — to third, and Beal scored on a single by Anna O’Gorman.
Katie Heard then hit a two-run home run to put the Wildcats ahead 3-0. The next three Millard West batters all reached base on Monarch errors.
Katie Klosterman and Graslewicz followed with RBI singles before Cain cleared the loaded bases with a double for the 8-0 advantage.
“I don’t care how good your defense is, if you put the ball in play and hit the ball hard, you have a chance to force teams to make mistakes,” Brummer said. “When you can score those runs, we want to get as many as we can as fast as we can.”
Millard South did that to Papio South in the other semifinal game, scoring their trio of runs in the fourth inning to back a four-strikeout performance by sophomore pitcher Jordan Johnson.
“They put the ball in play 16 times, but Jordan was hitting her spots,” Kerkman said. “Our defense stayed on top of things and we were moving runners and getting those sacrifice bunts down. That was probably our most complete game of the season.”
The Patriots (4-1) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Taylor Hufferd reached on an error and scored from first on the first of Jordyn Sturgeon’s two doubles.
Then in the pivotal fourth inning, Nebraska catcher recruit Madi Unzicker got things started for the Patriots by reaching on an infield error.
After Katie Matthews, the courtesy runner for Unzicker, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sydney Robertson, Hufferd reached on a fielder’s choice as the Titans failed to tag Matthews out at home. A two-run double by Leah Kalkwarf later in the inning wrapped up the scoring.
Millard West................................081 00—9 10 2
Papillion-La Vista...........................004 00—4 4 5
W: Kristen Van Hoosen. L: Julia Anderson. 2B: MW, Marisa Graslewicz, Faith Cain. HR: MW, Katie Heard.
Millard South....................................010 30—4 3 3
Papillion-La Vista South........................000 00—0 2 5
W: Jordan Johnson. L: Jackie Jaramillo. 2B: MS, Jordyn Sturgeon 2.
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