Gretna got off to a good start in its first competition as a Metro Conference member.

The Dragons scored eight runs in the top of the first inning, then survived a six-run fourth by Bellevue East to earn a 12-8 victory in front of an estimated crowd of 300 at the Lied Athletic Complex.

While its enrollment number pushed Gretna into Class A for the 2018-19 school year, the Dragons were still members of the Eastern Midlands Conference. It’s a similar path that Elkhorn South took when it moved from the EMC to the Metro two years ago.

“We’re glad we’re here,” Gretna coach Bill Heard said. “After being in Class A last year, it’s nice to be in the middle of it and see how things play out.”

All-Nebraska shortstop Billie Andrews got things started with a towering leadoff home run to left field for the fifth-ranked Dragons. It was the first game back for the Nebraska commit after she tore her ACL last September.

Hitting was contagious for the rest of the inning as Gretna sent 12 to the plate and finished with eight runs on five hits, four walks and an error.

“Billie has quite a big effect on the rest of our lineup,” Heard said. “It was the first varsity game for several of our kids, so it was nice to have her out there leading the way.”

Third baseman Kalee Higdon had two hits and two RBIs in the inning, while catcher Jenna Marshall and second baseman Ensley Frame each drove in a run. All three are sophomores.

Bellevue East got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first when Atiana Rodriguez singled and scored on an error. Gretna answered in the top of the second, when Marshall led off with a walk, stole second base and scored on a Mackenzie DeVine double.

The Dragons switched pitchers in the top of the fourth, and the Chieftains took advantage by sending 10 to the plate and scoring six runs on five hits. Grace Buffington came back to finish the inning and the game.

“We fought hard and finally got over those first-game jitters,” Bellevue East coach Casie Onken said. “They’re tough, and they’ve been good for a couple of years now.”

Gretna scored three in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 12-7. The Chieftains finished the scoring with a single run in the bottom of the sixth.

The teams meet again at noon Friday in pool play at the Chieftain Invitational. The 14-team tournament concludes with the 2 p.m. championship game Saturday at Lied.

Gretna (1-0)…810 003 0 — 12

Bellevue East (0-1)…100 601 0 — 8

W: Grace Buffington, 1-0. L: Kathryn Cunningham, 0-1.

2B: G, Kalee Higdon, Mackenzie DeVine, Jenna Marshall, Kaelyn Fisher, Faith Mills; BE, Libby Walls. HR: G, Billie Andrews.

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