HASTINGS -- Bishop Neumann took a couple of different routes to wins during the first day of the Class C state softball tournament.
The No. 2 Cavaliers showcased their offense — and an ability to rally — in a 13-7, opening-round victory against No. 4 Auburn on Wednesday.
In the winners’ bracket contest against No. 3 Fairbury, the Cavs relied on pitching.
Hadley Chvatal pitched efficiently and effectively in a 3-0 win against the Jeffs. The junior threw a 67-pitch complete game, limiting a strong Fairbury lineup to two hits.
“Shows how tight-knit these girls are,” Neumann coach David Brabec said. “They know when it’s crunch time and what we need to do, and when it goes 1-0 in six innings, Hadley really took it on the shoulders, and you have to give the kid credit. She pitched a great game and I think as the game went on, she started pitching better.”
The Cavaliers pushed a run across the plate on a base-loaded walk in the second inning, and extended the lead on a two-run single from Carlie Benes in the sixth inning.
Neumann (24-8) will play No. 1 Malcolm (25-4) in Thursday’s winners’ bracket game at 4:30 p.m. The winner will advance to Friday’s final.
The Clippers opened their state title defense quickly, racing to an 11-0 win against Guardian Angels Central Catholic (13-13). Senior Mattison Hogrefe had two triples and a double as the Clippers scored six runs and end the game after four innings.
That momentum carried over into a 4-2 win against No. 6 Arlington (25-7). Malcolm scored three runs in the first inning and got a complete-game pitching effort from junior Laura Reiling, who had nine strikeouts.
“It builds our confidence, (gets) our momentum going, gets the girls excited and it kind of gets the other team kind of questioning themselves, especially opposing pitchers,” Malcolm co-head coach Andrew Edwards said of the early lead. “If we can put runs on them right away, that pitcher starts to have to guess a little bit and maybe throw pitches where she doesn’t want to throw them.”
Malcolm and Neumann have yet to meet this season. Edwards said he’ll turn to assistant coach Beth Singleton. “The researcher,” Edwards jokingly called her.
Fairbury, which got a gritty performance from Delaney Miller against Neumann (165 pitches, eight strikeouts), dropped to the losers' bracket.
Sophomore Cora DeBoer went 4-for-4 with four runs and two RBIs in the Jeffs' 13-5 opening win against Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan.
Auburn will play Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan in a losers' bracket game at 9 a.m. Thursday.