Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Southeast have two of the top lineups in the state.
The scoreboard reflected that Monday evening at Doris Bair Softball Complex. Southwest, ranked seventh in Class A, swept a doubleheader that featured a lot of runs (41), a lot of homers (13) and many more near-homers.
Skylar Pieper led the power charge for the Silver Hawks. The junior third baseman hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in the team's 13-5, five-inning win in the first contest, and added three hits, including another homer, in the second as Southwest held on, 14-9.
For Pieper, her recent rise in production at the plate goes back to a tweak in her approach.
"Don't think," she said after hitting a combined nine RBIs in the two games.
"At the beginning of the season I kind of struggled because I was thinking too much. So now I just walk up to the plate like, 'Don't think. Just do what you do and have fun.'"
The defending state champions are also starting to get their groove back offensively.
Southwest (13-4) scored a combined three runs in three straight losses recently. But the power switch came back on in the second game of a doubleheader against Lincoln North Star. The Hawks have won five straight games, scoring 14, 11, 11, 13 and 14 runs in that stretch.
"Coming back in the second North Star game we played, played much better," Southwest coach Mark Watt said. "Before that game we just kind of put things behind us and decided to play ball. We're hitting the way we should."
Southwest senior Abbie Squier, a Nebraska recruit, had three hits, including a homer in the first game Monday against the Knights.
Squier, Pieper, Ellie Grabouski and Emma Hain each homered in the second game. Hain homered twice and finished with four RBIs, and Southwest had 15 hits in the second game.
Squier, Hain and Pieper occupy the Nos. 2, 3, 4 spots in the lineup and are giving a lot of opposing pitchers trouble.
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"There are three hitters in a row that's got as much power as anybody," Watt said. "That means you can't walk the first one to get the next one, because you're taking a big chance."
Watt said the team was pressing a little during its mini-funk, and Pieper said the team came back with an extra bounce in its step.
"During practice, we started having more fun, we started being a little louder and having a little more chatting," Pieper said. "Knowing that everybody has each other's backs."
Southeast (11-10) put on its own power show Monday. Rylan Ewoldt hit a two-run shot to give the Knights an early lead, and Lily Rippetau and Jacey McKeon added homers in the second game. Southeast trimmed into Southwest's lead, but the Silver Hawks scored three insurance runs in the sixth and Pieper made a great catch and throw from third to turn a double play in the seventh.
"We fought, we battled, we kept up pretty good," Southeast coach Kirk Svendsen said. "I told (our players) if we play most nights like we did tonight, then we're going to come away with a lot more wins than losses."
Amanda Schmaderer hit two homers for Southeast in the first game.
Monarchs win Metro Tournament: Junior Jordyn Bahl threw a four-inning no-hitter and struck out nine in leading top-ranked Papillion-La Vista to a 10-0 win against No. 4 Gretna in the Metro Tournament championship game.
Jenna Hoelscher hit a grand slam to lead the Monarchs at the plate.
Earlier in the day, Bahl threw a one-hitter and struck out 17 in a 2-0 semifinal win against No. 3 Omaha Marian.
Bahl committed to national powerhouse Oklahoma on Sunday night.