Amanda Neumann’s hitting and pitching stats show the impact she had for Bellevue University’s softball team.
But what is more important to coach Michala Cimino is how Neumann played when the stakes were the highest.
“She wanted the ball. That’s what I loved about her: She wanted the ball,” Cimino said. “So to give her the ball in situations like that was a no-brainer.”
Such as when the Bruins faced Central Baptist, which led the NAIA in runs this season, at the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. Neumann, the captain on The World-Herald’s All-Nebraska NAIA team, shut out the Mustangs on consecutive days to lead Bellevue to the title, throwing a one-hitter in a 3-0 win May 3 and then tossing a three-hitter in a 4-0 win the next day.
The conference tournament victory advanced Bellevue to the national tournament, where Neumann had another defining moment.
Facing fourth-ranked Oklahoma City University, the Bruins rallied for a 5-4 win in 13 innings. Neumann pitched all 13 innings, and with Bellevue trailing 4-3 in the 13th, she and teammate Kelsie Bridgeford smacked back-to-back home runs to keep the Bruins’ season alive.
“The bigger the game,” Cimino said, “the bigger Amanda stepped up.”
Neumann led the team in RBIs (71), home runs (19), runs scored (51) and doubles (22) this season, and was second with a .361 average and a .775 slugging percentage. The 22 doubles set a school record for a single season, while the 19 homers tied a single-season mark. Three of the home runs came in one game against York on April 27.
She also went 16-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 159 strikeouts. Neumann had three one-hitters and two two-hitters as she threw 15 complete games. She played shortstop and third base when she wasn’t pitching.
“She’s a kid that would do anything that’s asked of her,” Cimino said. “She’ll be tough to replace.”
Neumann was all-state at Papillion-La Vista before playing her freshman year at Southwest Minnesota State. She then transferred to Bellevue.
“From the day she arrived three years ago,” Cimino said, “she’s one of the kids that worked to put the program on the map.”
On the school’s all-time lists, Neumann finished second in home runs (48) and slugging percentage (.744) and third in doubles (44). She also is third in shutouts (14) and strikeouts (493).
Cimino said Neumann is quiet and preferred to lead by example. She was part of a senior class that guided the team to a 42-11 record.
“Chemistry, hands down, was our biggest asset this year,” Cimino said. “It was a special season, and Amanda was right in the thick of all that.
“(The seniors) set the bar very, very high for our program on what leadership should look like on and off the field for years to come.”
Cimino said Neumann, who also was named Bellevue’s co-female athlete of the year, will stay involved in softball: She’ll help coach Bellevue West this fall.
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