Bulldog, Bearcat softball teams ready for district action
     2014-10-09      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Anthony Brathwaite/Gering Citizen - Members of the Lady Bulldog softball team hold a team meeting on the field with coach Tim Gonzales at the start of a game against Chase County on Sept. 16. Coach says the team has been working hard in practice in preparation for the district tournament which begins today. The Bulldogs are number 1 seed in the 6-team double elimination tournament hosted by Lexington. 
When play begins this morning in the District B-6 softball tournament in Lexington, players and fans should expect tight competition in most contests.

Gering (19-8) is the No. 1 seed for the six-team tournament, which is at the Lexington Optimist Fields, and Scottsbluff checks in as the No. 4 seed. And just between those two teams, the Bulldogs have won three of their five meetings this season.

Scottsbluff (13-15) opens play against No. 5 seed and tournament host Lexington (9-18) at noon Central Time. If the Bearcats – who played shorthanded in the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament and lost to Lexington in the seventh-place game – can reverse their fortunes, then a sixth Gering-Scottsbluff game will take place immediately following at 2 p.m.

The bottom side of the bracket has No. 2 Holdrege (13-12) awaiting the winner of the noon game between No. 3 McCook (15-14) and No. 6 Alliance (1-20).

The double-elimination tournament will have five games today – with the first elimination game at 4 p.m. – and three, possibly four, on Friday starting at 11 a.m. The championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m., with a second title game if need to follow at 5 p.m.

The winner, in all likelihood the only team that will represent the district, will advance to the state tournament in Hastings on Oct. 15-17.

One district tourney win will give Gering its third straight 20-win season, and its first under rookie coach Tim Gonzales. A district title would earn the Bulldogs the program’s second trip to state, the first coming in 2002.

Being the No. 1 seed is far from a lock in getting a team qualified for state, as Gering discovered two years ago. The Bulldogs were the No. 1 district seed but were unable to advance to state.

Gering has not played since Sept. 25, when the Bulldogs split two games in the Gothenburg Duals at Ogallala. Their win that day was a 6-3 victory over McCook.

The Bulldogs’ regular-season finale, scheduled for Sept. 30, was canceled after a downpour last Monday and early Tuesday morning made Gering’s field unplayable for its game against Alliance.
“It’s been a good span of not playing, but we’ve been practicing every day,” Gonzales said. “Even through the crazy rain we’ve had, we’ve been practicing as well. We’ve been trying to make the most of a lot of scrimmaging, just looking at a lot of pitching. So I’m thinking we’re where we need to be.”

Gonzales said he feels pretty good about the Bulldogs’ No. 1 seed.
“It’s nice to know that all the hard work has paid off,” he said. “We were able to get a bye first round, and we’re looking forward to that 2 o’clock game on Thursday.”

Gering has a cumulative record of 8-3 against potential district opposition, with the Bulldogs only other loss besides the pair to Scottsbluff coming on McCook’s home field, a 12-2 win for the Bison
“We’ve managed to win over everybody in our district, and that’s a good confidence booster knowing that we’ve been able to beat all the teams in our district. A lot of teams match up differently, so we’re just looking forward to Thursday.”

Scottsbluff coach Michael Gentry had his team on the field Saturday, albeit without senior pitcher Mikayla Fulk. She will be back in the circle after she spent time in the hospital last week with a bacterial infection.

“We just didn’t have our best stuff,” Gentry said of the Bearcats’ effort in the GNAC tourney. “Offensively, we showed signs of life and then other times we were just swinging and missing. So we had a lot of ups and downs over the weekend. Hopefully we can turn that around.”

Scottsbluff lost its GNAC opener to North Platte 8-2 and was blanked by Columbus 13-0 in four innings in the consolation semifinals. Lexington then beat out the Bearcats 10-5 for seventh place.
“We had a lot of underclassmen really step up this past weekend,” Gentry said. “A lot of freshmen showed tremendous strides in their game, and that was really enlightening to see. Some of the upperclassmen have to do a better job.”

Against North Platte, Scottsbluff trailed 4-2 after four innings. The Class A Bulldogs took control afterward, scoring one run in the fifth inning and four in the sixth to go up 8-2.
North Platte finished the game with seven hits to three for Scottsbluff. The Bearcats had two errors while the Bulldogs had one.
Senior Barbara Calvert led Scottsbluff offensively, going 2-for-3, including a double.

Against Columbus, Scottsbluff fell behind right away as Columbus scored six runs in the first inning. Columbus tacked on three more runs in the second inning and four in the third.
Columbus ended the game with 13 hits while Scottsbluff had three.

Scottsbluff junior Zoe Holscher and senior Shelby Trussel each had a double.

The Bearcats fell behind early against Lexington, too, when the Minutemaids scored four runs in the first inning to enter the second frame up 4-2. Lexington then went ahead 6-2 in the third inning. After four innings, Lexington held an 8-5 advantage.

Scottsbluff finished the game with 10 hits, while Lexington had 13. Freshman Hannah McQuistan had a three-run home run in the fourth inning and finished the game with three runs batted in. Holscher went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Trussel and senior Hannah Brown also went 2-for-4.

“It’s a grind with as much as we travel, and as much as we have been on the road later in the season,” Gentry said. “Obviously we would have liked to played better last weekend, especially against Lexington. I like our chances, and hopefully we strap it on and play to the best of our ability.”

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