Clark’s Corner, 8/23/22
Emma Miller fired the evening’s first pitch, and then the umpire stepped in to stop the game.
It was halted for good reason, though. A neat reason. A historic one.
The ball was saved – and later signed by players and coaches – to celebrate Omaha Westview’s first softball game and the new school’s first athletic event.
Last Thursday was a night of firsts. First pitch. First hit (a lead-off triple by freshman Kennedy Drummond), first home run (a three-run shot by Miller), and eventually, first win (10-0 over Omaha Bryan).
Oh, but that wasn’t the best “first.”
Not only did Miller deliver the school’s first pitch, but she also threw a no-hitter.
Now that’s a memorable start!
“Obviously, there was a lot of buildup to the first athletic event in school history, so to come out and have so many firsts,” Westview softball coach Katie Palmquist said. “It was so exciting and so fun. I know the girls were excited for that first game.”
The celebration continued into Friday when the school hosted a pep rally. The softball team was front and center.
Palmquist said the gym was rocking.
“I think it hit them a little bit,” the coach said of the significance of the game. “It’s very, very special and it’s a historic moment. But as you know, you hit 3 o’clock that day and it’s off to practice. But it was very enjoyable to see them experience that.”
There are three sophomores on the roster. The rest are freshmen, including Miller. There’s bound to be growing pains, and the Wolverines have already experienced those in a 2-3 start to the season.
But their season won’t be defined by wins, losses or no-hitters. Palmquist, her assistant coaches and the players are putting down the first bricks, and that in itself will make for a special season.
“We talk to them so much about how we’re building a legacy and we’re creating the culture of Westview softball and what do we want that to look like,” said Palmquist, who played at Millard South and later served as an assistant for the Patriots. “That is something that they take very seriously.”
The first ball, by the way, will be making its way to the school’s trophy case soon.
These helmets are hopping!
There are cool football helmets from around the state, and then there are the lids that Omaha Benson will be donning this fall.
The Bunnies caught our attention over the weekend with a tweet unveiling the team’s new helmets.
They’re white with a mean, green rabbit peering over the top, above the facemask. The design is original and fresh.
But that’s not the best part. The Benson coaches will be handing out helmet reward stickers in the form of carrots during the season.
The concept, carrots and all, came from assistant coach James Knight. Head coach Terrence Mackey said the players were excited when they saw the helmets over the weekend. Benson had been wearing plain white helmets and the team got “B” decals after last season.
Then Knight had a better idea (The “B” stickers will go to the feeder program).
The Bunnies, who have seen an uptick in talent, will flash the new helmets Friday against Lincoln North Star.
I’m going to second what Gary Sharp and Damon Benning said earlier this week on their morning show, “Sharp and Benning” on 1620.
Every high school football season should begin with a showcase game or games in Week 0. That’s what we got last week when Bellevue West beat Creighton Prep 28-21 in a great game at Omaha Burke Stadium. There were more than 5,000 fans there, and there was a lot of buzz ahead and after the game.
Now let’s do it in 2023, 2024 and beyond.
How cool would it be if the defending Class A or B state champion hosted another contender at 7 p.m. on statewide television? Follow what the NFL does to begin its season with a grand Thursday opener.
The football schedules are made in two-year cycles, so maybe it’s not that easy to slide up a game to Week 0.
Let’s do it for hoops, softball and volleyball while we’re at it.
Speaking of season-opening softball showcases, Gretna and Omaha Marian put on a show last Thursday. In a battle of state title contenders, Gretna outlasted the Crusaders 2-1 in eight innings. Props to the pitchers – Marian senior Maddia Groff and Gretna sophomore Alexis Jensen – who combined for 27 strikeouts. Jensen had 15.
There are some great football games this week, including Bennington-Omaha Skutt and Creighton Prep-Omaha Westside. Here’s a saucy one: Elkhorn South will play at Lincoln Southeast (4:30 p.m. Friday at Seacrest Field), meaning we’ll see Husker recruits Maverick Noonan (Elkhorn South) and Gunnar Gottula likely locking shoulder pads.
Are you into watching volleyball played at a high level? Of course you are. The Bellevue West Invitational, taking place Friday and Saturday, is loaded. Papillion-La Vista South, Millard West, Papillion-La Vista, Omaha Westside and Omaha Skutt are among the teams in the field. Think about the number of DI-caliber players that will be there.