HUXLEY - For two innings, Nevada hung with No. 4 Ballard in the Class 4A regional softball semifinals Saturday at Gary Telford Field in Huxley.
But the Cubs were overwhelmed in the third and fifth frames, falling by an 18-0 score in five innings.
Nevada only trailed 3-0 going into the third inning.
The Cubs gave up three runs in the top of the first, but thanks to a double play by shortstop Grace Francis, they prevented Ballard from pushing any more runs across. In the bottom of the inning, Nevada put a big scare into Ballard.
Ellie Gray reached on an error and Francis and Mackenzie Garrett both singled to load the bases with just one out for the Cubs. But Ballard pitcher Abby Carlin buckled down to strike out the next two Cub hitters, preventing Nevada from pushing a run across.
Ballard posted five runs on the board in the third inning to take a commanding 8-0 lead. A two-run double from Jenna Moody was the big Bomber hit of the inning and Kiersten McKinney and Katie Sydnes each had RBI hits off the bench.
In the fourth inning, a great diving catch by Mady Farmer in left field helped Nevada retire Ballard in order. But the Cub offense still couldn’t get anything going against Carlin.
The Bombers broke the game open in the top of the fifth. Carlin hit a two-run homer and Ballard received several hits off the bench, fueling a 10-run surge to put the game away.
The Cubs ended their first season under head coach John Bass at 4-21. But they went out on a high note after earning their first postseason win in several years with a 3-2 eighth-inning victory at Harlan in the regional quarterfinals on Thursday.
“They have done something that hasn’t been done around here,” Bass said. “That’s a great building block for the offseason. I’m really proud of the girls (for) how hard they worked and how hard they fought. When you put as much effort and commitment in as the girls have, it’s going to hurt when it’s over.
“It’s hard to put into words what the girls have done — the record doesn’t show the hard work and dedication that they’ve shown — but things are turning around,” Bass said. “I expect to be here in this situation and in front of these types of atmospheres as long as Nevada has softball. That’s our expectation.”
Nevada ended the game with five hits off Carlin. Francis hit two singles and Garrett, Gray and Sydney Mosinski each tallied one.
Garrett was the losing pitcher. She ended the game with three walks and two strikeouts.
Ballard improved to 32-5.
Moody was 3-for-3 with three RBI and Carlin went 2-for-3 with three RBI to pace Ballard’s offensive attack. Carlin struck out seven with no walks in earning the shutout victory.
Ballard 18, Nevada 0 (5)
B 305 0(10) - 18 19 2
N 000 00 - 0 5 3
B: Abby Carlin and Skylar Rigby.
N: Mackenzie Garrett and Katie Sullivan.
2B: B - Jenna Moody.
HR: B- Carlin.
HARLAN - For the first time in over a decade, Nevada celebrated a postseason victory with a 3-2 victory over Harlan in eight innings during the Class 4A regional quarterfinals July 6 at Harlan.
The Cubs entered the game having not won a postseason game since claiming a district title in 2002. They also had only claimed three victories all season.
But under first-year head coach John Bass, Nevada came up huge when it mattered most.
Harlan scored one run in both the first and third frames. Nevada put up two in the top of the third and the two teams went scoreless over the next four innings to force an extra frame.
In the top of the eighth, Grace Francis walked and Caitlyn Sharp ran for her on first base. Sharp stole second and took third on an errant pickoff throw.
“That’s her job,” Bass said of Sharp. “She’s a track star and fast for a reason.”
Addi Vorm then stepped to the plate, having struck out three times during the game. But she hung tough and came up with a huge single to drive in Sharp with the eventual winning run.
In the bottom of the eighth, Mackenzie Garrett retired the side in order to clinch the monumental victory.
“Mack just bore down,” Bass said. “She struck out their leading home run hitter to end the game and got two of the three (outs) on strikeouts.”
Garrett gave up two earned runs on seven hits and she had six strikeouts and one walk, going all eight innings. She was backed up by a Cub offense that finished with eight hits.
“The girls just played really hard and stayed within themselves,” “They battled and really stayed focused for the whole game. The moment never got too big for them. They just played relaxed and it was great. The two-hour bus ride on the way home was a lot of fun.”
Francis was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI as Nevada’s top hitter in the win. Riley Mailey and Sydney Mosinski both singled and scored once, Vorm was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Mady Farmer and Ellie Gray each added one single.
Nevada overcame 15 strikeouts by Harlan pitcher Morgan Schaben to get the victory. Schaben gave up three runs — two earned — and only had one walk.
Emily Brouse was 2-for-2 with a double, Anna Ahrenholtz went 1-for-4 with two RBI, Kennadi Carey singled and scored and Kaylie Briggs walked, stole a base and scored for the Cyclones, who ended the season at 12-22.
Nevada 3, Harlan 2 (8)
N 002 000 01 - 3 8 NA
H 101 000 00 - 2 7 NA
N: Mackenzie Garrett and Katie Sullivan.
H: Morgan Schaben and Madison Schumacher.
2B: N - Grace Francis 2. H - Emily Brouse.