LEXINGTON — The Scottsbluff softball team came close to pulling out a victory in its season opener Friday.
But Lexington, which trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, punched across two runs in the final inning to rally for a 4-3 victory.
Although Scottsbluff was disappointed to fall short, coach Michael Gentry was encouraged by what he saw in his team’s first outing of the season.
“We played pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, it’s heartbreaking to lose in the bottom of the seventh, but we really grew. We made in-game adjustments, which is something that we’ve struggled with over the last couple years. We’re much more athletic. Our girls battled.”
Gentry said the Bearcats showed that they have “a very bright future” this season.
“I feel extremely positive after today,” he added. “I told the rest of my staff right as the bottom of the seventh was starting, ‘No matter how this ends up shaking out, we are so much better than we’ve been in the past.’ And we didn’t even play that well, so we have so much more room to grow.”
Scottsbluff ended the game with seven hits, but Gentry said his team is capable of performing much better offensively. The Bearcats left several runners on base Friday.
“We could have done a better job with our pitch selection,” he said. “And to be honest with you, our base running was a little sloppy today. We should have scored a few more runs.”
Hannah McQuistan, Emily Runk, and Hailey Franklin each had two hits for Scottsbluff. The Bearcats’ runs were scored by Chloey Reifschneider, Rachelle Palser, and Franklin. Runk and Tiersa Darley each had an RBI.
Gentry said Erin Willats had a solid showing in the circle. She gave up only one earned run and struck out two while throwing all seven innings.
“She did a pretty good job,” Gentry said. “Erin was pretty consistent. She has really grown a lot. Last year we used her here and there, and this year she’s really kept her composure. She did a good job of hitting her spots.”
Lexington managed to prevail in the seventh, helped by a couple Scottsbluff miscues. The hosts then caught another break at the end, when its game-winning hit fell just between the second baseman and the right fielder.
“It was just one of those unlucky things that didn’t go our way,” Gentry said. “It just hit a perfect spot.”
Nevertheless, Gentry thinks his team will respond well Saturday when it competes in the Lexington Invite. The Bearcats’ first game is against Holdrege at 8 a.m.
“After [Friday’s game], I’m pretty excited,” he said. “We know that we kind of gave this one away. We could have had it. But the girls are still really excited. They see their potential. They know that we didn’t play to the best of our ability. They know we can definitely sharpen some things up. Our morale is high, and we’re ready for the competition. We’re ready for the challenge.”
Scottsbluff (0-1).................100 200 0–3 7 4
Lexington (1-0)....................100 100 2–4 7 4