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Class C state softball: Bishop Neumann seeks to make most of its time in Hastings after wild first day
CLASS C

Class C state softball: Bishop Neumann seeks to make most of its time in Hastings after wild first day

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HASTINGS — Coach Dave Brabec has some itinerary searching to do. 

Sparked by a seven-run fourth frame, his No. 2 Bishop Neumann team defeated No. 4 Malcolm 11-3 Wednesday to advance to Thursday’s winners bracket game, meaning the Cavaliers will have some time to burn.

“It’s kind of hard to keep them entertained until 4:30 tomorrow, so we’re going to have to find something fun to do to keep our minds maybe not so focused on the game, and just being a little more relaxed and have a little fun," Brabec said.

Neumann earned a few extra hours off from softball after going 2-0 during the first day of the Class C state softball tournament at Bill Smith Softball Complex. It started the day with a 9-1 win against No. 9 Hastings St. Cecilia and then made some adjustments at the plate to break open the game against Malcolm.

Neumann (27-7) trailed 3-1 to the Clippers when sophomore Avery Mayberry launched a solo homer in the top of the third. Five more hits and six more runs followed for Neumann, which scored the game’s final 11 runs.

“I think both games we were worried — we heard they (St. Cecilia and Malcolm) had some big power hitters,” Brabec said. “We’re a finesse pitching team and we just preached the last couple weeks about hitting spots. If you don’t hit spots, things don’t usually go your way and Macy (Sabatka) did a heck of a job on the mound just hitting spots.”

Five Cavaliers had at least two hits in the game, including leadoff hitter Mary Chvatal (three).

Neumann’s nightcap victory capped a wild day in Class C. The lower-seeded team won three of four first-round games, which included No. 10 Central City upsetting top-ranked Guardian Angels Central Catholic 6-4.

Malcolm rolled past No. 3 Fairbury 16-3 and No. 7 Kearney Catholic beat No. 5 Auburn 9-5.

The Stars, making their second state appearance in the program’s young history, turned around to beat Central City 11-1 in four innings to set up a showdown with Bishop Neumann.

Live updates: It's time to crown three softball champions in Hastings. Follow along with us

Kearney Catholic coach Jon Ruyle said he was surprised to see the upsets, but, “Anything can happen in a tournament like this. When you see three of the bottom four seeds win their first-round game, you know it’s going to be that kind of day.”

It’s a much different look for Kearney Catholic, which went 0-2 in last year’s state tournament, and Ruyle credits the team's Wednesday offensive outbursts to the work the players put in in the days leading up to the tournament. Facing all-stater Kynlee Marquez, a hard-throwing pitcher, helped, the coach added.

“We knew coming into this that we were kind of (in a) underdog role, so we have nothing to lose,” Ruyle said. “These girls are excited, first time playing on Friday, so I think they’re going to come out ready to go.”

Malcolm sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth inning against Fairbury, turning a 7-3 lead against a dangerous Fairbury team into a 16-3 cushion.

Fairbury (25-8), the defending state champion, will play Hastings St. Cecilia in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Thursday. Auburn will play GACC in the other elimination game. Fairbury, GACC and Auburn were the final three teams standing in Class C last year.

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

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