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Class B state softball: Behind White's web gem, Norris dives into Class B winners bracket
CLASS B

Class B state softball: Behind White's web gem, Norris dives into Class B winners bracket

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State softball, 10.14

Norris' Alexis Wiggins (2) is greeted at home by teammates Taylor McMurray (15) and Taylon Diederichs (16) after hitting a home run in the first inning of a Class B state softball first-round game Wednesday at Bill Smith Complex in Hastings. 

HASTINGS — Delaney White was in the right place at the right time, and Norris is right where it wants to be.

With her team up one run and with runners on first and second with one out Wednesday, White made a diving catch to her left from her third-base spot to rob one of the state’s top hitters of a hit. She then quickly threw the ball to second to complete a double play, sealing No. 3 Norris’ 4-3 win against No. 2 Hastings in the second round of the Class B state softball tournament at Bill Smith Softball Complex.

“I knew she was coming at me,” White said of Hastings’ Kaelan Schultz. “She had been hitting it at me all night, so I was just ready.”

White’s game-ending play helped lift the Titans, who are riding a 16-game win streak, into Thursday’s 7 p.m. winners bracket final against top-ranked Omaha Skutt. The winner will advance to Friday’s Class B state championship game.

Norris coach Kyle McMurray said White has been making defensive plays like that all season. But it also helped to have a little luck on the side in one of the most tightly contested games of the day.

“Let’s call a spade a spade, right? You’ve got to get lucky in the state tournament,” McMurray said. “If you’re going to compete for a championship in any sport at any level, an element of luck has to come your way. That ball that got hit that ended the ballgame, it could have been 2 feet to the left and we would have a tied ballgame and they would have had runners on with one out.

“Our kids are just looking for opportunities to make plays and if luck finds us, then we’re not going to shoo it away, I’ll tell you that.”

Norris (28-4) had other elements working in its favor, too.

Senior pitcher Alexis Wiggins was strong in the circle, striking out eight and holding a deep Hastings lineup to seven hits. The Creighton recruit also tied the game at 3-3 with a two-run hit in the fifth inning. The Titans took a 4-3 lead later in the inning when McKenna Becher scored on a wild pitch.

The Titans have played a tough schedule all season, and they’ve been a part of 10 one-run games (including a regular-season game against Hastings), winning seven of them. Hastings (30-4) won the first meeting 8-7.

“We’ve played a really difficult schedule this year and iron sharpens iron, it just does,” McMurray said. “We just got better and better as the year progressed and we put ourselves in so many positions by playing such a difficult schedule that the kids just don’t get fazed by things.

“There’s no secret recipe, there’s no secret sauce. It’s just kids believing in each other.”

Norris opened the tournament with an 8-3 win against No. 9 Grand Island Central Catholic. The Titans hit four homers in the game, two coming from Wiggins.

Behind its bats and arms, top-ranked Omaha Skutt (30-3) rolled into Thursday’s game against Norris. Junior Ruby Meylan struck out 15 in the SkyHawks’ 6-0 win against No. 5 Elkhorn (21-13), and junior Hannah Camenzind struck out 13 in an 8-1 win against No. 4 Northwest (26-11).

Northwest held off a late rally in an 8-7 win against No. 6 Seward in a first-round game.

Seward trailed 8-5 headed to the top of the seventh, but pulled to within 8-7 on a two-run homer from Grace Hamling, who finished with two homers and a triple to lead the Bluejays.

The Central Conference foes were meeting for a third time this season.

“All three times we’ve played them it’s been a battle back and forth, pretty evenly matched,” Seward coach Rich Eber said. “Yeah, tough one to swallow, but they played well.”

Hastings took control against Crete with five runs in the third inning to win 8-2.

Crete (21-11) will play Grand Island Central Catholic (23-10) and Seward (24-9) will play Elkhorn (21-13) in elimination games at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.

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