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Beatrice vs. Crete softball, 9/17

Crete pitcher Lexi Mach warms up in between innings against Beatrice in Crete in 2018.

CLASS A

Team (Rec.);Pvs

1. Papillion-La Vista (10-0);1

2. Lincoln Southwest (7-1);3

3. Omaha Marian (3-2);4

4. Elkhorn (7-2);5

5. Lincoln North Star (9-3);8

6. Millard West (7-3);7

7. Millard South (4-2);2

8. Gretna (8-2);9

9. Elkhorn South (6-4);10

10. Omaha Burke (7-3);6

Contenders: Kearney, Lincoln East, Millard North, Norfolk.

Comments: How dominant has Papillion-La Vista been in recent years? The Monarchs haven't lost a regular-season game since Sept. 16, 2017, a stretch of 47 games. Monarch junior Jordyn Bahl hasn't allowed an earned run in 36 2/3 innings and has struck out 81. Lincoln Southwest had an impressive 10-0 win against Elkhorn in the LPS Classic, so the Hawks get the two-spot over Marian. North Star jumps up to fifth after strong showings in the Chieftain and LPS tournaments. Very little separates Nos. 2-8 right now. Will a couple of teams be able to separate themselves from that pack in the coming weeks?

Key games: Thursday—Omaha Skutt at Omaha Marian, Omaha Burke at Millard West, Elkhorn South at Millard South. Friday-Saturday—Papillion-LV South Invite (Gretna, Lincoln Southwest, Millard West, Omaha Burke, Omaha Skutt, Papillion-La Vista), Millard North Invite (Elkhorn South, Millard North, Millard South). Monday—Elkhorn South at Elkhorn. Tuesday—Lincoln Southwest vs. Lincoln North Star (DH), Papillion-La Vista at Elkhorn South, Omaha Burke at Millard South.

CLASS B

Team (Rec.);Pvs

1. Omaha Skutt (7-1);1

2. Beatrice (9-1);2

3. Crete (6-0);4

4. Hastings (4-2);3

5. Norris (7-2);7

6. Wayne (7-3);5

7. Northwest (5-1);9

8. Seward (8-2);6

9. Waverly (5-4);-

10. Omaha Gross (7-3);10

Contenders: Bennington, Grand Island CC, NEN, Platteview.

Comments: Skutt, Beatrice and Crete have looked impressive in the early going, and Skutt and Beatrice are not penalized for close losses to Class A teams in the LPS Classic. Crete, meanwhile, owns wins against Norris, Seward and Class C No. 1 Fairbury. Norris' run to an LPS Classic pool title included wins against Class A teams Grand Island (8-0) and Norfolk (2-1), while Waverly enters after an upset of Lincoln Southwest.

Key games: Thursday—Omaha Skutt at Omaha Marian, Omaha Gross at Beatrice, Bennington at Crete, Seward at Norris. Saturday—Waverly quad (Crete, Waverly), Elkhorn at Hastings. Monday—Beatrice/Hastings/Northwest triangular in Grand Island. Tuesday—Northwest at Waverly, Omaha Gross at Omaha Skutt.

CLASS C

Team (Rec.);Pvs

1. Fairbury (7-3);2

2. Arlington (6-3);1

3. Guardian Angels CC (8-0);5

4. Hastings SC (6-1);3

5. Milford (6-0);7

6. Centennial (6-3);6

7. Malcolm (4-3);9

8. Cozad (7-1);10

9. Auburn (3-2);4

10. Bishop Neumann (6-4);8

Contenders: Freeman, Southern Valley/Alma, Tekamah-Herman, Twin River, Wahoo.

Comments: One through 10, this is as strong as Class C has been in recent years. Fairbury and Arlington are unbeaten against Class C competition, and each team has pushed teams in higher classes. Fairbury gets the nod at No. 1 for its runner-up showing in the Seward Invitational. Guardian Angels Central Catholic has outscored its first eight opponents 77-5, and won its own tournament last weekend. Milford, also off to a strong start, will face quite a stretch starting with Thursday's game at Malcolm. The Eagles also will see Fairbury, Centennial and Seward soon.

Key games: Thursday—Milford at Malcolm. Saturday—Auburn Invite (Auburn, Bishop Neumann), Fairbury Tournament (Centennial, Fairbury, Freeman, Hastings SC, Milford). Tuesday—Auburn at Fairbury.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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