Big hits and five errors in the first three innings Tuesday helped Bellevue West build a six-run lead in its softball showdown with Omaha Benson.
But the Bunnies didn’t hop away and hide. Though their rally fell short, a two-out home run by Mileah McKelvy in the seventh inning made the Thunderbirds sweat and gave Benson’s future opponents something to think about.
Bellevue West held on for a 6-4 victory before an estimated crowd of 150 at Gallagher Park. For Thunderbirds coach Casie Onken, that was the biggest part of the final game before district tournament pairings are announced later this week.
“We came out here and did what we had to do,” Onken said. “Wherever it leads us, we’ll be ready for any district where we land.”
For the Thunderbirds (16-9), that very well could be a trip to North Platte for the District A-7 tournament. Benson appears headed for the A-5 tournament in Papillion against Papillion-La Vista, which is aiming for its 20th consecutive state tournament appearance.
Two runs in the first inning and four more in the third allowed Bellevue West to build its 6-0 lead. Winning pitcher Linzy Heim had a single to left field that brought home Lauren Crouch and Hannah Stoysich in the first.
Stoysich then led off the third with a single and scored on a double to left by Jennifer Mitera. The Thunderbirds added three more runs, with two Benson errors extending the inning.
“We were lucky we got out of that first inning giving up only two runs,” Benson coach Bob Woodworth said. “We’re a good-hitting team and we got some things done late, but in big games you can’t give outs away like that.”
Shortstop Tashiana Coffiel-Nelson led off the sixth with a walk, then stole second and third before a single by Sydney Morrow with two outs let Coffiel-Nelson score Benson’s first run.
Through the first six innings Heim had eight strikeouts, but that didn’t faze the Bunnies (18-5) in the bottom of the seventh. Heim got her ninth strikeout for the first out before No. 8 hitter Rylee Kroeger singled and Coffiel-Nelson drew a two-out walk.
Then McKelvy, Benson’s sophomore second baseman, crushed a three-run homer that left a dent in the left-field scoreboard. But Heim got catcher Katie Teel to fly out to center field to end the game.
Bellevue West (16-9).......................204 000 0—6 5 2
Omaha Benson (18-5)....................000 001 3—4 4 5
W: Linzy Heim. L: Kayla Guerrero. 2B: BW, Jennifer Mitera. OB, Guerrero. HR: OB, Mileah McKelvy.
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