HASTINGS – All Lincoln Southwest had to do on Saturday to win the Class A state softball championship was something nobody had done all year – beat Papillion-LaVista.
Oh, and the Silver Hawks had to do it twice to win the double-elimination tournament.
And that’s exactly what Lincoln Southwest did, topping the Monarchs 7-5 in the first game and then taking a 9-5 victory in the second to earn the Class A title. After losing to Millard West in the first round of the state tournament, Lincoln Southwest won six straight elimination games to hoist the state championship trophy.
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Lincoln Southwest finished the season with a mark of 39-5 while Papillion-LaVista finishes the year at 34-2.
In the first game, Papillion-LaVista jumped out to a 4-1 lead early on, but that lead was erased in the top of the fifth inning when Abbie Squier hit a grand slam to put the Silver Hawks up 5-4 as Southwest held on to force the second game.
Papillion-LaVista again jumped out to an early lead in the second game as the Monarchs got RBI groundouts from Brooke Dumont and Jordyn Bahl in the top of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Southwest, however, answered in the bottom of the third on a three-run homer from Skylar Pieper to take a 3-2 lead. That lead didn’t last long, though, as in the top of the third Mia Jarecki hit a two-run home run for the Monarchs and Jenna Hoelscher added a RBI single to put Papillion-LaVista up 5-3.
That lead held up until the bottom of the fifth when Squier hit a three-run shot to make it 6-5 Southwest. In the top of the sixth, centerfielder Squier then gunned-down the potential tying run at the plate to preserve that lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Southwest added three more insurance runs when Josi Solano hit a RBI double and McKenzie Steiner followed with a two-run homer to make it 9-5 Southwest.
Steiner and Brin Swanson were both masterful in the circle on Saturday for Southwest. Both pitchers saw action in each game, and their contrasting styles kept Papillion-LaVista off balance. In seven innings pitched, Steiner allowed nine hits and four earned runs while walking two and striking out six. Swanson also pitched seven innings on the day and gave up six hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out four.
Photo credit / Taylor Siebert of nebpreps