Two years ago, an Elkhorn-Gretna softball game was a matchup between Class B rivals from the Eastern Midlands Conference.

When the Antlers hosted the Dragons on Tuesday night, one team was still in the EMC, but both are now in Class A.

Both teams are still really good at softball, with Elkhorn being a bit better in a 12-5 victory over the Dragons before an estimated 250 at Elkhorn.

Antlers coach Al Schutte said the game did have a different feel, but it was nice to continue a series with a healthy history.

“We just talked about that before the game, how it’s a little different from last year,” Schutte said. “I don’t know a whole lot about the A schools around here. Now I really have to pay attention to what everybody does.”

While both teams had their share of offensive success, the No. 2-ranked Antlers were better in the circle. Elkhorn ace Sydney Nuismer finished with 12 strikeouts, while the No. 6 Dragons used three pitchers and had more trouble cooling off the Antler bats.

Elkhorn started the scoring in the bottom of the first by scratching out a pair of runs on three hits. Ella Dalton led off with a ground-rule double to center field.

Dalton then moved to third base courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by Ari Crafton before scoring on a single down the left field line by Nuismer for a 1-0 Antler lead.

Jordyn Rochholz entered the game as the courtesy runner for Nuismer. She scored on a passed ball after moving to third on a double down the left field line by Camryn Cramer.

Gretna halved its deficit in the top of the third when Billie Andrews drove the ball to center field, where it bounced off an Elkhorn fielder’s glove at the fence. The Nebraska commit didn’t hesitate to take third on the bobble. She then scored on an infield groundout by Ensley Frame.

“I thought we were decent offensively tonight, because getting five on Syd is not bad,” Gretna coach Bill Heard said. “We weren’t very good in the circle tonight, and we weren’t very good defensively. You just can’t give them free bases.”

Elkhorn responded with four runs in the bottom of the third as the Dragons used three pitchers in that frame. Starter Grace Buffington gave up back-to-back singles that moved Elkhorn’s lead to 3-1 before being replaced by Megan Eurich.

One walk, two singles and two runs later, Heard brought in senior Jerzi Rowe. Only one more run, charged to Eurich’s tab, scored as Rowe coaxed Elkhorn into a fielder’s choice and two groundouts.

But the Dragons didn’t slink back to the dugout, instead catching fire offensively for four runs of their own. All of those fourth-inning runs came with two outs.

Frame had a two-run single to right after Elkhorn intentionally walked Andrews to load the bases. Andrews then scored when Frame started to go to second.

After looking Andrews back, the Elkhorn defense tried to get Frame at second base. That’s all Andrews needed to race home with Gretna’s fifth and final run. Both teams then went down in order before Elkhorn sealed the victory with six runs in the sixth.

An error and a wild pitch helped the Antlers score three of those runs. After Andrews singled to start the top of the seventh, Nuismer got strikeouts 11 and 12 to end the game.

“They were putting the ball in play (in the fourth) really well there,” Schutte said. “She calmed herself down and refocused, and she did a good job of keeping them off-balance.”

Gretna (8-2)........001 400 0— 5 7 1

At Elkhorn (7-2).....204 006 x—12 12 1

W: Syd Nuismer. L: Grace Buffington. 2B: G, Jayden Haley (2); E, Ella Dalton.

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