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NSAA State Softball Championship Games, 10.12.18

Bishop Neumann's Taylor Stuhr (right) circles the bases after hitting a home run against Centennial in the fifth inning of a Class C elimination game Friday at Smith Softball Complex in Hastings.

HASTINGS -- Bishop Neumann got another pair of strong pitching performances from senior Hadley Chvatal on Friday.

Just as important, the Cavalier bats continued to stay hot.

Third-ranked Neumann got some clutch hits and pulled away for a 6-0 win against No. 2 Arlington to set up a fourth meeting with top-ranked Wayne at the Class C state softball tournament at Smith Softball Complex.

Earlier in the day, Neumann (27-9) cranked out 10 hits in a 9-2 win against No. 9 Centennial to knock out the Broncos.

The offensive performance comes one week after Neumann struggled to get the bats going in the district tournament.

“Every team goes through a spell,” Neumann coach Dave Brabec said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the No. 1 team in the nation or you’re No. 1 in Nebraska, you go through dry spells. I can honestly say we didn’t have our dry spell until districts. Bats went cold and that kind of stuff happens. We waited until districts and that’s not when you want to peak, but I can truly say I think we’re peaking here at state.”

Neumann took a 3-0 lead against Arlington on Hattie Bohac’s two-run single in the third inning. The Cavaliers pushed it to 5-0 on Katie Ohnoutka’s two-run triple in the fifth. Chvatal struck out 11.

Maggie Vasa and Celia Kuhfahl each had two hits against Centennial (27-11).

Now Neumann gets another shot at Wayne. It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The third meeting was Thursday -- a 2-1 walk-off win for the Blue Devils, who are 34-0.

That means, for Neumann, getting another crack at Wayne junior pitcher Tori Kniesche, who struck out 17 in a 4-0 win against Arlington earlier Friday.

Wayne's game was scoreless until the fifth when Allison Claussen hit a two-run homer. Kendall Dorey drove in two more runs in the sixth.

It was another close game for Wayne, which has seen too many of those this season.

“I think they just need to learn you need to piece things together,” Wayne coach Rob Sweetland said. “Teams down here are not going to give you a whole lot. Sometimes it takes three hits to score, where you got be able to execute a bunt and come up with that timely hit.

“We hadn’t been able to score quick here like we have most of the season, so we’re finding different ways to get it done.”

Friday’s weather delay means stretching the state tournament to four days instead of three. Wayne and Neumann will play at 10 a.m. Saturday. Both coaches like how the schedule worked out as both teams rely on one pitcher.

The longer tournament doesn’t bother the Cavaliers, who aim to repeat as Class C champions.

“We don’t mind staying here another day when you’re going for a state title,” Brabec said.

Arlington (25-9) finishes in third place for the second straight year.

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

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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