A bit of bad luck with the weather kept five teams from playing a game during the first week of the season.
Class C Cozad and four teams in Class B — Aurora, Elkhorn, Gering and Plattsmouth — either didn’t get to take the field at all or couldn’t finish a game that had to be suspended because of weather.
Elkhorn started its game against Waverly on Tuesday night but got only to the top of the fourth inning before lightning, thunder and eventually rain prematurely ended the night with the Antlers ahead 3-1.
That came after Elkhorn’s Saturday triangular with Columbus and host Omaha Skutt was postponed because of a wet field.
Aurora was set to open its season Friday hosting its own tournament, but that had to be called off for weather-related reasons. Cozad was in that tournament and didn’t have another game scheduled until Thursday at home against Gothenburg.
Plattsmouth got washed out of a weekend tournament at Omaha Bryan before both of the Blue Devils’ games in a triangular with Conestoga and Omaha Mercy/Brownell-Talbot were put on hold because of Tuesday’s storms. Conestoga did defeat Mercy in the first game at Westgate Fields before the rain came.
Millard North almost joined that group. The Mustangs’ season opener Tuesday at Omaha Northwest didn’t get a chance to start as storm clouds built up during the junior varsity game.
“At about 6:15 we were five minutes from getting into the dugout when they told us it didn’t look like we were going to be able to get it in,” Mustangs coach John Swoboda said. “That was the right call, because right after we got on the bus it started to pour.”
Swoboda said the athletic directors from both schools set up a contingency plan to play the varsity game Wednesday if they couldn’t fit it in Tuesday.
First pitch was at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and the Mustangs won 7-0. Sophomore pitcher Kate Rehberg had 15 strikeouts.
“It was good to play because the kids are tired of practicing,” Swoboda said. “We just needed to go out and play. Northwest was in the same boat. They played Thursday and were anxious to get back on the field.”
Rehberg, by the way, has college offers from Creighton, Wichita State and Northern Iowa, Swoboda said, and schools in Power Five conferences are showing interest.
Monarchs move to No. 1
The first week is usually the one that produces the biggest shifts in the ratings. Those first few games offer a chance to learn a bit about a team’s strengths and weaknesses and realize a squad or two might be listed a bit too high or low.
I had the chance to watch 10 teams across all three classes in the first five days of the season, and it’s easy to see that there will be stiff competition to reach the Oct. 12-14 state tournament in Hastings, especially in Class B.
Papillion-La Vista moved into the top spot in Class A and the overall Top 10 with Saturday’s 7-5 victory over preseason No. 1 Millard West. That game was an example of how tight things will be in Class A among the top handful of teams.
Gretna and Elkhorn South have established themselves, once again, as Class B’s top teams. Don’t expect the Dragons or Storm to rest on their accomplishments — both coaching staffs would quickly squelch any such thoughts.
Though Conestoga lost two of its first three games, the Cougars stay atop the Class C ratings. One of those losses was to Gretna, a team Conestoga had beaten the past two seasons.
The other loss was to Milford, one of the teams the Cougars defeated on the way to their first state softball title. That says more about the Eagles and the championship aspirations they harbor for 2016.
Big tournaments are planned for this weekend, including seven pools of four teams apiece at the Lincoln Public Schools tournament hosted at the Bair Complex by Lincoln East, and the seven-team Omaha Marian Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Hopefully the rain will stay away long enough to let these games be played.