Chase County gets
first post-season win
since 2005 season
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
It may not be much consolation, but Chase County’s 1-2 finish at the C-6 District Softball Tournament last week included the first post-season win for the team in seven years.
A 14-5 defeat of Chadron last Thursday in Chase County’s opener marked the first win at the district tourney since 2005, when the Lady Longhorns were district runners-up and finished with a 15-18 record.
And, Chase County’s final 3-26 record bettered the past two years of play when the team failed to record any wins. Since 2007, the team hadn’t tallied more than two wins.
Coach Denise Smith said her team played well in all three games last Thursday.
“I feel we had a good day in the tournament. We wanted to play well and we did,” she said.
It was a tournament of upsets, except for the district championship team, top-seeded Gothenburg.
The Lady Swedes breezed through the tournament with three straight victories and without a run scored against them to qualify for state.
After beating Chase County in their first game 11-0, Gothenburg defeated St. Paul 10-0 and then Minden 10-0 in the finals.
No. 7 Minden, the bottom-seeded tournament team, had to be the tournament’s Cinderella team.
After topping No. 2 seed Blue Hill in their opener, Minden lost to St. Paul, but advanced through the loser’s bracket with wins over Chadron, Southern Valley/Alma and a rematch with St. Paul to make it to Friday’s finals.
Minden, coming into the tourney with a 2-23 record, had twice as many wins at districts than they had all season. After a 4-2 finish last week, they ended their season at 6-25.
Unfortunately for No. 5 Chase County, who also upset No. 4 Chadron in their first game, all the other upsets meant facing a higher-seeded team, No. 3 Southern Valley/Alma, in the loser’s bracket.
Blue Hill, seeded No. 2, lost two straight in the tournament to be eliminated earliest of all teams.
District champion Gothenburg, at 25-5, was seeded No. 4 in the Class C state tournament that started Wednesday and continues through Friday in Hastings.
Leaving before 6 a.m. and with 40-degree temperatures at game time, Smith said she wasn’t sure how her team would perform in their first tournament game against Chadron.
But, she was pleasantly surprised as her team came ready to play and hit the ball the best they have all season.
“It was a fun one, a good start,” Smith said.
Racking up runs in every inning but one, Chase County had its best offensive output of the season with 12 hits in the 14-5 win over Chadron, ending the game early on the eight-run rule after five.
Six of Chase County’s runs came in the fifth, three on walks by a struggling Chadron pitcher.
Holding a 14-2 lead as Chadron came to bat in the fifth, Chase County sputtered on defense a bit with two errors contributing to three Chadron runs.
But, they held on to the lead to have the game called after five.
Michaela Space led the team at the plate with three singles. Claire Kuenne and Abbi Vetter doubled with other hits recorded by Cassie Burpo, two singles; Ally Vrbas, two singles; Anna Bauerle, two singles; and Emma Mollendor, single.
Anna Bauerle on the mound had one of her lowest pitch counts of the season at 74—45 strikes and 29 balls.
She struck out two, walked two and gave up four hits in the five-inning contest.
Chase Co. 1 4 0 3 6—14
Chadron 0 0 0 2 3— 5
It was three up, three down for Chase County in the first three innings against top-seeded Gothenburg.
But the fourth inning had some spark for the Lady Longhorns as Vrbas tripled and Bauerle doubled.
Vrbas attempted to steal home on a passed ball but was thrown out for the second out that inning. Bauerle was left stranded when Space struck out to end the game.
The Lady Swedes had 10 hits in their three at-bats. Bauerle walked just two and struck out no one in the 11-0 loss.
“We didn’t play badly, we just faced a good team” that managed to hit the gaps, Smith said.
Chase Co. 0 0 0 0— 0
Gothenburg 5 4 2 0—11
Southern Valley/Alma game
In a win-or-go-home contest Thursday afternoon, Chase County battled Southern Valley, a team Chase County lost to five other times this season.
But, last week’s 10-5 loss was the closest they’ve played them all season.
That didn’t ease the tears as the loss ended the Lady Longhorns’ 2012 season.
It hurt even more after Chase County led after three innings and were tied 5-5 after four.
Neither team scored in the fifth, an inning highlighted by a Chase County double play to end SV/Alma’s at-bat. Emily Johnston caught a pop-up at second and then threw out a straying base-runner who left second.
Three errors hurt the Lady Longhorns in the top of the sixth, as SV/Alma scored two more and went up 7-5. It was a great inning-ender for Chase County, though, as Blair Hartman threw out a runner at home after a hit to right field to end SV/Alma’s sixth. On a one-out single to center, Bauerle reached base in Chase County’s half of the sixth. But pinch runner Jasmine Laird was doubled off after a line-drive to short that ended the inning.
SV/Alma put three more across in the seventh, as the team scored three doubles and a pair of singles.
Chase County went three up, three down in their half of the seventh to end the game.
Bauerle and Jodi Koellner each had two singles, while Burpo also registered a single in the game.
Bauerle went all seven innings on the mound, striking out three, walking four and giving up 12 hits.
Chase Co. 2 2 0 1 0 0 0— 5
SV/Alma 0 0 1 4 0 2 3—10
A recap of the 2012 season will be reviewed next week.