It was an emotional end to the Western Nebraska Community College softball team’s season Wednesday evening in the NJCAA District E playoff with Butler Community College.
The two regional champions came in with a combined 75 wins and the two hooked up in two tight, emotional contests.
Butler, 42-6 and ranked No. 10 in the nation, received some clutch hits in registering two wins over the Cougars in extending its season to the national tournament next week in St. George, Utah.
For the WNCC ladies, they end their season at 35-20 but played tough in the district final and during the final two months of the season.
Wednesday night, it was a battle between two evenly matched offensive teams. The first game saw WNCC break on top 2-0 before Butler earned scored a seventh-inning run to earn the 5-4 win.
The second contest saw Butler score six early runs and then hang on for the 8-5 win and the District E title.
Even with the two losses, the Cougars had a great season. Sophomore Michaela Kelly said she wouldn’t want to play with any other team in the way the Cougars battled all season.
“I am extremely proud of this team and I wouldn’t want to go to battle with anyone else by my side,” Kelly said. “We have worked so hard day in and day out. It was no accident that we were successful. This season we grew together and I’m just so proud.”
WNCC battled the 10th-ranked team in the nation tooth and nail, and Kelly said they knew they had to battle against the Grizzlies.
“We knew that we had to fight for these games today and we were with them and were so close,” she said. “We didn’t go down without a fight. We had a good season and I’m proud of everyone.”
The fight showed in game one. WNCC jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings with single runs in the opening two frames. Hannah Baesler singles in Mickie Mills in the first inning while Mills singles in Sam Davis in the second inning.
Butler came back with three runs in the third to go up 4-2. WNCC showed fight and came back to tie the game with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game at 4-4. WNCC loaded the bases and then Emma McMillan worked for a 5-pitch walk to score one to cut the lead to 4-3.
The sixth saw Emma Glawson single and score on a passed ball to tie the contest at 4-4.
Butler scored one in the seventh on just two hits to take the lead and then held on for the win.
WNCC finished the game with six hits. Mickie Mills had two hits to lead the offense while also scoring two runs with an RBI. Kelly, Baesler, Sam Davis, and Emma Glawson had the other singles.
The second game saw WNCC make a comeback after trailing 4-1 at one time. The Cougars scored runs n the first four innings but couldn’t hold back Butler’s offense as the Grizzlies had two big home runs from Boo Robinson and Taliya Talley.
WNCC scored first with a run in the first. Butler comeback to plate four in the bottom of the opening frame for a 4-1 lead.
The Cougars came back and scored runs in the next three innings to cut the lead to 6-5. WNCC scored one in the second on a Lindsey Allie double that scored Emma McMillan.
WNCC added another run in the third behind a single by Kelly, a double by George, and then loaded the bases as Baesler walked. McMillan then hit a sacrifice fly to score one run.
The Cougars made more noise in the fourth with two runs. WNCC loaded the bases on three straight walks. Kelly then scored Allie on a grounder and Glawson scored on a passed ball to cut the lead to 6-5.
Butler added two runs in the bottom of the fourth for the 8-5 lead and then held on for the win.
Butler outhit the Cougars 9-3. WNCC received doubles from Lindsey Allie and Bri George. The other hit was a single by Michaela Kelly.
Butler 004 000 1 – 5 8 3
WNCC 110 011 0 – 4 6 1
LP – Emma McMillan.
WNCC 111 200 0 – 5 3 4
Butler 420 200 x – 8 9 1
LP – Emma Glawson.
2B – Lindsey Allie, Bri George.