HASTINGS – One rough half inning prevented Hastings St. Cecilia from debuting in the Class C state softball tournament with a victory.
The No. 2-rated Hawkettes committed a pair of errors in the top of the sixth inning that helped No. 4 Arlington score five runs en route to a 9-7 victory at the Smith Softball Complex.
Both starting pitchers went the distance while allowing 11 hits. Arlington’s Sarah Theiler struck out seven and walked two while the Hawkettes’ Natalie Kissinger allowed six earned runs, struck out six and walked none.
St. Cecilia coach Ryan Ohnoutka said the one rough inning made a huge difference after his team entered it with a 5-4 lead.
“Our weaknesses showed today,” he said. “I thought Natalie pitched really well. She really did, honestly. If you look at all the plays they scored on, they were just those little doink shots almost. They were just like luck hits.
“But you also have to give credit to them. Their top three hitters are tough. But we just didn’t make the plays today.”
Kylee Bruning’s two-run home run to left field gave the Eagles (22-6) the lead for good in the sixth.
Arlington also jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with Cadence Robinson singling in a pair of runs.
But a young, second-year St. Cecilia program quickly responded, not something you could automatically expect from a team with one senior and one junior.
The Hawkettes (25-8) put up four runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. Shaye Butler got things going with a two-run double. Bailey Kissinger’s first home run of the season extended the lead to 5-3 in the second and Kiersten Kober added a two-run shot to center in the sixth to try to help St. Cecilia get back into the game.
“Once we scored four runs in the first inning, I knew that we were going to be fine on offense,” Ohnoutka said. “Our bats were fine. We scored seven runs today, and there’s not too many games that we’ve lost when we’ve scored seven runs. We just didn’t make the plays.”
The Hawkettes face No. 7 Auburn – a 15-7 loser to No. 3 Guardian Angles Central Catholic – in an elimination game Thursday at 9 a.m.
“We’re going to have to come back, and these girls will,” Ohnoutka said. “They fought all year, and they’re going to continue to do that. They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
Arlington (22-6) 301 005 0—9 11 1
Hastings SC (25-8) 410 002 0—7 11 3
WP—Theiler (18-6). LP—N. Kissinger (21-7). 2B—A, Robinson; HSC, Butler. 3B—A, Theiler. HR—A, Bruning (4); HSC, B. Kissinger (1), Kober (3).
Wayne 4, Hastings 0
Even putting the ball in play against Wayne pitcher Tori Kniesche proved to be difficult for Hastings in the first round of the Class B state tournament Wednesday morning.
Kniesche recorded her first 14 outs via strikeout and finished with 19 in a 1-hit 4-0 shutout victory.
“I’m not sure we made any (adjustments) early,” Hastings coach Ashley Speak said of her team’s approach at the plate. “She just kept getting outs, and we told them they had to make an adjustment. Some of them did, some of them didn’t.
“She’s good. You tip a cap to a pitcher like that. She held us, a pretty powerful offense, to no runs.”
Kniesche, a South Dakota State recruit, did walk six but only allowed one runner to reach third base. Elle Douglas broke up the no-hit bid with a single to right field with two outs in the top of the sixth inning.
No. 6-rated Hastings (28-8) didn’t help its own cause by committing three errors in the bottom of the first inning to spot the No. 4 Blue Devils a 3-0 lead. Aliah Schulz had the big hit, a two-out, two-run single.
“That’s a big hole,” Speak said. “We talked about it this week in practice that we couldn’t do it. We came out here and accidently did it. Then we could just never get back into the game really.”
Douglas took the loss, holding the Blue Devils to one earned run on four hits. She struck out five and walked two.
The Tigers face No. 1-rated Omaha Skutt in a 9 a.m. elimination game Thursday after the SkyHawks were upset 7-1 by No. 7 Seward.
Speak’s message to her team is simple: “Now everybody that we play and we beat, they go home.”
Hastings (28-8) 000 000 0—0 1 4
Wayne (31-3) 310 000 x—4 4 0
WP—T. Knitsche (26-2. LP—Douglas (18-6).