Papillion-La Vista, Omaha Marian and Omaha Skutt, three of the state’s highest-ranked softball teams, all won invitational championships Saturday as the season inches closer to district tournament play.

The Top 10 No. 1 Monarchs defeated Lincoln Southwest 11-0 and Gretna 8-1 to win the Papillion-La Vista Invitational at La Vista City Park.

Papillion-La Vista is 25-0 and the Monarchs have won 59 of their past 61 games over the past two seasons. The only losses in that stretch came to Lincoln Southwest in the 2018 state tournament finals.

Monarchs coach Todd Petersen said Papio’s returning players and coaches have reflected on how last season ended and are motivated to not let the chance at another state tournament title slip away this season.

“It’s a little easier to be focused after what happened last year if you can use it in a way to motivate you,” Petersen said. “In our minds we haven’t taken our foot off the gas. Last year we just flat out got beat. If that’s what happens, that’s what happens.”

Papio appears to be even better than last year’s 34-2 team, especially with the top line of players now being juniors instead of sophomores. Pitcher Jordyn Bahl, catcher Brooke Dumont and infielder Mia Jarecki all are returning All-Nebraska players who are sparking Papio’s play.

Bahl struck out 15 Southwest batters and gave up two walks in Papillion-La Vista’s five-inning win over Southwest, and Kaylee Wagner hit a grand slam against the Silver Hawks.

In Papio’s tournament championship game against Gretna, Bahl had a two-run home run and also gave up her first earned run of the season — a home run by Nebraska commit Billie Andrews.

Petersen became the eighth coach in state history to post at least 400 career victories when Papio defeated Omaha Burke 7-2 Friday.

Another member of the 400-win club, Skutt coach Keith Engelkamp, inched closer to joining Elkhorn South’s Terry Graver as the second coach with 500 wins when the SkyHawks defeated York and Norris to win the Hastings Invitational.

Hannah Camenzind and Ruby Meylan led Skutt to the victory from the circle as the Top 10 No. 2 SkyHawks improved to 16-2. Emma Spizzirri had a walk-off grand slam against Norris in the title game Skutt won 8-4.

Top 10 No. 7 Omaha Marian defeated Lincoln East 7-1 before beating Class A No. 7 Lincoln North Star 18-5 in the title game of the Omaha Westside Invitational at Hillside.

Marian coach Chad Perkins said the victory over the Gators was the Crusaders’ best offensive performance of the season.

“We’re seeing the ball really well right now and we’ve settled into a starting lineup,” Perkins said. “Our first game of the season we had 15 hits against Elkhorn South. But we didn’t get key hits at big moments, and we’re doing that now.”

Freshman pitcher Maddia Groff improved to 10-2 with a pair of victories Saturday, while Kaydence Skiles and Katie Palmer both had two home runs. No. 9 hitter Grace Bentley was 4 for 4 against North Star, including a home run.

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