BEATRICE -- Hannah Lytle was told to change bats before her final plate appearance of the night.
The Beatrice senior may have a new favorite bat.
With a backup stick in hand, Lytle drove a two-run homer over the left-field fence to give the Class B No. 2 Lady Orange an 8-6, walk-off win against No. 3 Crete in a game that had a postseason feel to it.
Lytle’s primary bat had a pair of cracks in it, but it didn’t stop her from continuing to use it. But after coming up empty on her previous two at-bats, coach Gary Lytle, her father, told her to go to the second one.
And when she connected in the bottom of the seventh, “I had a good feeling,” Hannah Lytle said. “I was just like, ‘Get a hit, Hannah.’”
Hannah Lytle also made another adjustment.
“I told her to change bats and close herself up a little bit,” Gary Lytle said. “She was staying open and not getting through the ball. She made an adjustment and it worked.”
The walk-off shot capped a series of back-and-forth punches between the teams late in the game.
After Crete rallied to knot the game at 5-5, Beatrice sophomore Tavia Hausman broke the tie with a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth. Crete’s Morgan Maly answered with a big shot to left field to tie the game in the seventh before the Lady Orange responded on Lytle’s shot, which came on Senior Night.
“She was due, all right,” Gary Lytle said. “She was due, and these girls as a team, they were due.”
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Beatrice trailed 2-0 immediately and then withstood a pair of Crete rallies to improve to 20-3.
“This team here, they’re led by the six seniors, but as a whole, they’re fierce, whether it’s JV or varsity, they're always competing out there,” Gary Lytle said. “Even when it’s not a game, they’re competing with each other just to do something different. They’re competitors. You put them in a ballgame, they’re going to fight and scratch.”
The loss was Crete’s (18-1) first of the season. The Cardinals, the last unbeaten in Class B to fall, entered the game first in wild-card points and Beatrice was third.
The Cardinals intentionally walked Beatrice’s Addison Barnard, who is batting a shade under .700 this season, four times, including in the bottom of the seventh. Barnard also pitched a complete game.
“Addi is a competitor,” Crete coach Shawn Carr said. “Even that home run, she didn’t hit it, but she dictates the fact that (Lytle) gets up because you got to pitch around her or walk her to get to that spot.”
Thursday’s game was the start of a tough three-day stretch for Crete. The Cardinals will host the Crete Invitational on Saturday. The field includes No. 5 Hastings, No. 8 Northwest and Class C No. 1 Fairbury.
Despite the loss, Carr said he saw a lot of positives Thursday.
“We grew a lot from the second inning to that seventh inning, and it validated a lot of things that we’ve talked about with our group,” said Carr, who said his team overcame some sluggish practices this week. “We had an opportunity in the second or third inning to fold and when you don’t fold, then you just stand there and take and you start to deliver punches back — it says a lot about the kids we have.
“I’m excited about the growth.”
Cassidy Skillet had three RBIs, including a two-run single for the Cardinals.