A quick reminder about the “R” word was Millard West's only look into the past Tuesday night.
With their focus on the present, the Wildcats pounded out 13 hits and rallied twice to defeat Omaha Benson 12-7 in a Metro Conference softball game at Gallagher Park.
It was just more than 10 months ago that the Bunnies — playing in the state tournament for the first time in school history — upset the top-ranked Wildcats in the first round. That was also the first time a No. 8 seed had won its first game at state.
The “R” word used by Millard West coach Don Brummer wasn't revenge. It was reminder.
“We've never been a team to look into the past,” Brummer said. “They came out and beat us, and we have to put that behind us. And we have.
“That game was just a reminder for us.”
Millard West (4-2) was reminded early that defeat was possible again after the Bunnies (5-2) jumped on several pitches from starter Faith Cain. After five batters, Cain's night in the circle was over after she gave up three runs and three hits and committed a throwing error.
Creighton recruit Tashiana Coffiel-Nelson laid down a leadoff dribbler along the first-base line, then advanced to second on Meleah McKelvey's single. With one out, Bunnies pitcher Kayla Guerrero hit the ball back to Cain, whose throw to first went wide right.
Coffiel-Nelson and McKelvey both scored and Guerrero advanced to second. Then a single by left fielder Rylee Kroeger brought home Guerrero before Brummer had first baseman Kristen Van Hoosen and Cain trade positions.
Cain jump-started the Millard West offense in the top of the second inning. The Nebraska recruit led off with a double, then moved to third on an infield out.
A single to left-center by second baseman Emily Truitt brought Cain home, and Madison Markoff's single plated Truitt and cut Benson's lead to one.
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In the top of the third, Van Hoosen tied the game with the first of her two home runs.
the teams combined to score seven runs in the fifth inning. Millard West scored its three on Van Hoosen's second home run, a moon shot to center field.
Benson regained the momentum in the bottom of the inning with four runs. The big hits were a two-run homer by McKelvey that ricocheted off the flag pole in center field and a two-run double by right fielder Izzy Righter.
Truitt got things started for Millard West in the top of the sixth by reaching when a fly ball to center was dropped.
“You can't prolong an inning against a good hitting team like that,” Benson coach Bob Woodworth said. “If we get through that inning it might be different, but we snatched the momentum and gave it right back.”
The Wildcats proceeded to roll through a six-run inning, with most of the damage coming on a two-run double by Van Hoosen and a home run by Cain.
Brummer has enjoyed Van Hoosen's productive start. She's been slowed by injuries at the beginning of the past two years.
“She has always been a very good batter,” Brummer said. “She's just a great athlete. As we're in the storming and conforming stage with our lineup, having Kristen step up is helping us get better.”
Millard West (4-2) .................... 021 036 0—12 13 1
At Omaha Benson (5-2) .......... 300 040 0— 7 10 1
W: Kristen Van Hoosen. L: Kayla Guerrero. 2B: MW, Faith Cain, Van Hoosen. OB, Rylee Kroeger, Izzy Righter, Tashiana Coffiel-Nelson. HR: MW, VanHoosen 2, Cain. OB, Meleah McKelvey.