Swede softball squad now at 10-2 with Scottsbluff title
Gothenburg rated sixth in Class C.
Gothenburg softball players had little time to celebrate a victory over McCook Thursday with a 4:20 a.m. departure for the Scottsbluff Invitational the next day.
The Swedes battled four Class B teams and came away with four wins and the invitational championship in action Friday and Saturday.
Gothenburg puts its 10-2 record on the line Thursday when the team travels to Holdrege.
The Swedes face an entire lineup of unfamiliar teams Saturday at the Grand Island Northwest tournament. With Gothenburg being the lone squad with a winning record, the Swedes will have to be sharp to avoid an upset.
Other schools in the tournament include Adams Central, Aurora, Boone Central, Central City, High Plains and York.
The Swedes open against Boone Central at 10:45 a.m. The next game is set for 12:30 p.m. if they lose and 2:15 p.m. if they win.
One is just fine for Swedes
The Swedes scored all that was needed in the first inning against Gering.
That one run remained the advantage through the final out.
Surprisingly, Gothenburg coach Roger Neujahr said he felt confident of a victory throughout the contest, despite not much of a cushion.
Bre Messersmith hit a one-out double in the first frame. Courtesy runner Payton Prall scored on Vanessa Linegar’s single.
Gothenburg couldn’t take advantage of Shelby Eggleston’s triple in the third inning, nor her double in the fifth. Nevermind, it wasn’t needed.
Two Swede pitchers held the Bulldogs to just four hits with each coming in separate innings. Gering put a runner at third twice, but one was put out and the other was stranded.
Messersmith went five innings on the mound and Amanda Barkmeier pitched two frames. Both gave up two hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Eggleston, with her double and triple, started what would be a four-game barrage going 6-for-8 in the tournament.
Alliance troubles continue
Facing 0-10 Alliance in the second round, Neujahr elected to sit five varsity players. Even that didn’t have much effect on the outcome with Gothenburg winning 12-0 in a game shortened to three innings.
The Bulldogs are having a tough season averaging less than a run a game while giving up 17 per contest.
The Swedes increased their scoring output in each inning after starting with a three-run first frame. Consecutive singles by Roni Putnam, Ali Abramson and Jordyn Haake sparked the rally.
Three walks and an error along with two singles paved the way for a four-run second inning.
The score grew to 12 with a five-run third. Alisha Ballmer’s double was the big hit of the inning.
Amanda Barkmeier pitched for the victory giving up three hits while striking out five and walking none.
Swedes beat hosts at start
The Swede coach was concerned that the early departure Friday would catch up with his players Saturday morning.
“We were sluggish, but we stressed that to the kids (before the game) and they had a great warm-up,” Neujahr said.
A five-run first inning gave Gothenburg a lead that the Bearcats couldn’t overcome.
Both teams had hitting success. Gothenburg stroked 11 hits, including four doubles, while Scottsbluff had nine hits.
The Bearcats scored a single run to open the top of the first.
Roni Putnam and Karen Franzen each hit a double to pace the scoring burst in the bottom of the inning.
Vanessa Linegar popped a RBI double in the second inning.
Taylor Wolf reached on a fielder’s choice and then scored on Ali Abramson’s ground out to the pitcher in the third.
Scottsbluff edged closer with two runs in the fifth inning.
Abramson scored the final run for Gothenburg in the sixth inning. She singled and later came home on a double by Shelby Eggleston.
Squeezing out some runs
Gothenburg “squeezed” out an 11-2 victory over Chadron in the Swedes’ final game of the tournament.
Four suicide squeeze bunt plays—where the runner at third heads home on the pitch relying on the batter to lay down a bunt—in the second inning were all successful.
Neujahr, who likes to manufacture runs, said the team has been successful on all but one suicide squeeze attempt this season. That is attributed to good base-running and batters up and down the lineup who can put down a bunt successfully when getting the sign.
The successful squeeze plays came after each team scored a single run in the opening frame. Gothenburg’s eight-run second blew open the game. Six hits and three walks contributed to the scoring explosion.
The Cardinals managed another run in the fifth, but Gothenburg answered with two more in the bottom of the inning before the game ended early after five.