HASTINGS — Bishop Neumann won a nail-biting game Wednesday night on a ricochet play on defense.
About 24 hours later, the Cavaliers won a softball game on an offensive ricochet.
Junior Logan Sylliaasen hit a hard ball that bounced off pitcher Kayla Fischer, allowing Avery Mayberry to score from second base in the sixth inning to lift top-ranked Bishop Neumann to a 3-2 victory against No. 4 Guardian Angels Central Catholic in a Class C state tournament game Thursday at Bill Smith Complex.
This ricochet lifted the Cavaliers to their fourth state championship final in seven seasons.
On Thursday against Malcolm, a batter hit a ball at third baseman Kya Swartz. It snapped off her and toward shortstop Mary Chvatal, who fired home to eliminate the game-tying run in the seventh inning.
“We’ve got good fortune going our way right now, and that’s what it takes to get to that (championship) game,” Neumann coach Dave Brabec said.
Another gritty pitching performance from Macy Sabatka also got Neumann to Friday’s 2:30 p.m. championship round.
The senior scattered nine hits to earn the win. She pitched the Cavaliers (33-2) to back-to-back one-run victories Wednesday and Thursday.
Brabec credits Sabatka’s ability to handle the big moments and the tough ones. She doesn’t give in to pressure, he said.
“She’s grown up doing this,” the coach said. “This is part of what she does. She grew up hitting spots. She’s lived on the mound since she was a little kid, she’s great at it and she’s different than anything else that anyone at this tournament has.”
Sabatka’s composure was tested in the seventh inning when she gave up a leadoff walk on four pitches. The tying run moved into scoring position before Sabatka coaxed a couple of infield outs to end the game.
“In my head I was definitely nervous, but I knew I had to act tough and show everything was going to be OK for my team, and I just had that faith in my teammates,” said Sabatka, who entered state at 25-2 with a 2.97 earned-run average.
Neumann was just as clutch in the sixth inning when Mayberry got on base and Sylliaasen produced her first hit of the night — the game-winner.
“She stayed within herself, she made some adjustments and that’s what this game is about,” Brabec said.
Guardian Angels Central Catholic (24-8), the defending state champion, will play No. 2 Yutan/Mead (30-6) in an elimination game at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The winner will play Neumann.
How does a team put behind it a 13-1 opening-round loss? Yutan/Mead may be on to something.
“They watched a little bit of softball, we decided what we were going to do and we ate Runza,” Patriots coach Ryan Glatter said after his team won three elimination games Thursday, including a 14-4 four-inning win against the very same team it lost to by 12 a day earlier.
On Wednesday, No. 5 Malcolm dropped the Patriots (30-6) to the losers bracket, and the Patriots responded with wins against Cozad (5-1), Kearney Catholic (14-5) and Malcolm.
“The lights were bright on Wednesday, we haven’t been here for 12 years and it was an experience and they learned a lot,” Glatter said. “And they felt comfortable with what they were looking at today. We had a little talk last night (and) things came together.”
Junior two-way standout Shaylynn Campbell put an exclamation point on the day with a massive three-run blast into the night sky that capped the 14-4, run-ruled victory against the Clippers (25-11), who defeated Hastings St. Cecilia 13-12 earlier in the day.
“Shay’s one of those girls, she knew what she was doing when she walked up there, she could end it,” Glatter said. “She’s good at math.”
Game of the day
Bishop Neumann-Guardian Angels CC: There were clutch hits, clutch pitches and clutch defense. You couldn’t ask for a better way to close out Day Two at the state softball tournament.
Yutan/Mead and GACC met once during the regular season with the Patriots winning 6-4.
If GACC wins, the Bluejays will play Neumann for a fourth — and they hope fifth — time this season. If Yutan/Mead wins, it will be rematch of a regular-season meeting won by the Patriots (5-2).
Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.