Bulldogs fall twice to Bison in district finals: Gering finishes season with third straight 20-win year; Scottsbluff also goes 2-2 in tournament
     2014-10-16      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Steve Towery/for the Citizen - Gering Lady Bulldog freshman Kaitlyn Todd makes contact over home plate in last game of the Class B6 District championship. The Lady Bulldogs finished as runners up in the District with a 21-10 season record. 


By Terry Gaston
sports@geringcitizen.com
LEXINGTON – When the Gering softball team hit the Lexington Optimist Fields on Friday morning, the No. 1 seed Bulldogs found themselves just two District B-6 wins away from making Gering’s first state tournament appearance in 12 years.
The Bulldogs snagged win No. 1 rather easily, an 8-4 decision over McCook, then sat back and waited to see how the Bison would fare against Lexington, which had eliminated Scottsbluff 15-8.
McCook rolled over Lexington 10-1 and then, in a stellar effort, held Gering to just one run in two games to defeat the Bulldogs 9-0 and 12-1 and earn the berth to state this week in Hastings.
The losses gave Gering a final record of 21-10 but completed the Bulldogs’ third straight 20-win season, their first under rookie coach Tim Gonzales. Gering earned a first-round bye Thursday and opened play with an 11-5 win over Scottsbluff before the Bulldogs headed into their McCook-loaded Friday.
Gering had not played since Sept. 25, and when the first Scottsbluff-Lexington game went long, with the Bearcats finally emerging as 18-17 victors, the Bulldogs had to wait a little while longer to make their district tournament debut.
“I think the break did us good,” Gonzales said. “We were able to regroup and get back to square one on bunch of different things, both offense and defense.”
Scottsbluff scored a run in the top of the second inning before Gering responded with four in the bottom of the frame. The Bulldogs Varsity scored on a two-run triple by senior Chelcey Mannel, an RBI single by senior Isabel Thompson and a groundout by senior Ciera Booker.
The Bearcats tied the score at 5-all in the top of the fourth, with freshman Hannah McQuistan driving home two runs on a triple, before the Bulldogs erupted for four runs in the bottom of the inning and never looked back.
Gering scored in the fourth on a two-run single by sophomore Kaylee Bohnsack and RBI singles by Mannel and Thompson. Mannel collected four RBI on three hits for the Bulldogs.
Senior Mikayla Butler got the pitching win for Gering despite allowing five runs over seven innings. She struck out three, walked three and surrendered eight hits.
Senior Mikayla Fulk took the loss for Scottsbluff. She allowed nine runs in four innings, walked five and struck out one.
The Gering Bulldogs Varsity increased their lead with two runs in the fifth. A single by Bohnsack ignited the offense, bringing home freshman Tori Hoagland.
“They came right into us and are already warmed up and were hitting the ball,” Gonzales said. “We put together a solid performance offensively, and everybody in the lineup had at least one hit.
“The girls were ready to go, we had a great defensive outing, we had some gritty defensive plays come about, Mikayla pitched a great game, and we were able to get on top of Scottsbluff and just never let them back into the game.”
In defeating McCook on Friday morning, the Bulldogs got a 2-for-3 outing from Mannel, who had a home run in the second inning and a single in the fourth.
Gering jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with junior Brooke Doggett leading off with a single. The Bulldogs never trailed after scoring two runs in the second on Mannel’s two-run home run.
Gering then added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Mannel scored first, then Butler singled to bring home Thompson.
Two runs in the top of the seventh helped McCook close its deficit to 8-4, but that was as close as the Bison got in the teams’ first meeting.
“We stuck to our game plan and Continued from page B1
we put up 14 or 15 hits, played rock-solid defense, the pitching was good, and so we knew we were able to handle McCook,” Gonzales said. “Then we had to wait a few games to get to the championship.”
By the time Gering got back on the field, however, McCook had shaken off its loss to the Bulldogs after blowing out Lexington 10-1.
Gering managed seven hits off McCook’s Payton, but the Bulldogs were shut out and were forced into the second title tilt.
Butler had two hits for the Bulldogs off Payton, who struck out five, walked none and surrendered seven hits.
Butler allowed six runs in three innings, walked one and struck out one in taking the loss in the circle.
McCook scored twice in the first inning and built upon its lead with three runs in the second. The Bison added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
“I think the girls went into the championship game really nervous,” said Gonzales, whose team committed four errors in each of the title contests.
“We just kept telling them that you just have to keep doing what got you here. I think a younger team like this, they’re not used to the pressure yet. They’re just going to have to get used to it and get over those jitters.
“It was the same team, same pitcher, same everything, so it’s disappointing and it’s frustrating,” Gonzales said. “There were some errors and we just didn’t get going, and they did.”
In the winner-take-all game, Payton held Gering to four hits and got plenty of run support, lifting the Bison (20-15) to state. Payton struck out one, walked none and gave up four hits.
In her Bulldog finale, Butler took the loss by allowing McCook 12 runs in five innings, while she walked two and struck out one.
In the first inning, Gering scored its only run on Booker’s RBI single. McCook took the lead in the third inning on four runs, including a three-run home run. The Bison increased their lead to 8-1 with three runs in the fourth.
“I’m very thankful for the season we had. We were able to make a good run at the district title,” Gonzales said. “It wasn’t the way we planned it out, especially after that first win (over McCook).
“Six of our girls are sophomores or freshmen, so they got a lot of high-pressure situations and big-game quality experience out of them. We also had a good group of juniors step up, and we’ll be back next year and hope to have another great season.”
Scottsbluff also went 2-2 in the tournament and finished the season with a 15-17 record. The Bearcats opened district play Thursday by rallying past Lexington in their 18-17 thriller before their 11-5 loss to Gering.
Scottsbluff stayed alive with an 11-1 romp over Alliance in elimination play Thursday before the Bearcats fell 15-8 to Lexington on Friday.
“Anytime you can win two games in your district tournament, you have to be proud of your team,” second-year Scottsbluff coach Michael Gentry said. “The girls played well, but in the end we just made too many mistakes and the other teams took advantage of them.”
In the first meeting between Scottsbluff and Lexington, the Minutemaids scored five times in each of the first two innings and held a 10-2 lead before Scottsbluff scored twice in the bottom of the second and erupted for 11 runs in the third inning for a 15-10 lead.
Back came Lexington, however, with three runs in the fifth inning and four in the sixth to jump into a 17-all deadlock. The Bearcats had scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to lead 15-13.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Bearcat junior Hana Nagasawa ended the lengthy battle and doubled home senior Alex Coward for the winning run.
Freshman Erin Willats got the win in relief for the Bearcats Varsity. Willats pitched five innings and allowed seven runs.
“That first game, we came out ready to play and so did Lexington,” Gentry said. “It was just a battle and we were lucky enough to come out on top of that one. It was definitely a fun game to watch.”
Gentry didn’t want to blame fatigue as the main factor for the Bearcats in their loss to Gering, but he said it played a role after Scottsbluff finally defeated Lexington.
“Not to take anything away from Gering, but when you play 2-1/2 hours and have to make a quick turn around and come back against a tough team, it’s tough to do,” Gentry said. “But we battled, we were able to tie the game up but they were just a little better than us that day.”
The Bearcats rebounded from the loss to Gering and rode a seven-run explosion in the second inning to their 11-1 win in four innings over Alliance (1-24).
Scottsbluff scored in the second inning on an RBI single by junior Chloey Reifschneider, an RBI double by junior Zoe Holscher, a two-run single by senior Barbara Calvert, a two-run single by senior Shelby Trussel and an RBI double by sophomore Emily Runk.
Calvert racked up four RBI on three hits for the Bearcats.
Scottsbluff took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. A single by Calvert brought home Holscher. The Bearcats added three runs in the third. A single by Calvert ignited the offense, plating Holscher. That was followed up by freshman Hailey Franklin‘s single, scoring Calvert.
Fulk gave up just two hits, allowed no earned runs, walked two and struck out four during her 3-1/3 innings of work.
However, after three games Thursday, the Bearcats fought hard in a rematch against Lexington but in the end did not have enough left in the tank despite collecting 12 hits.
“We just had tired legs,” Gentry said. “We were the first ones to get to the ballpark and the last ones to leave that day, so it was definitely a long evening.
“We tried to get as much as rest as we could, and we don’t want to use as an excuse, but Lexington was a pretty solid team this year. We just made too many mistakes.”
Lexington had six hitters combine for 11 hits, 10 RBI and nine runs scored. Fulk took the loss in her Bearcat finale. She allowed 12 runs in 5-1/3 innings, walked three and struck out one.
Scottsbluff jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Reifschneider scored on an RBI double by sophomore Rudi Salazar.
Lexington (11-20) responded with eight runs in the second. The Minutemaids scored on an RBI double, a home run, another RBI double and an error.
Lexington stayed on top until the final out after taking the lead in the sixth, scoring six runs on four singles and an RBI triple.
Gentry will lose six seniors but sees a bright future for the Bearcats.
“We doubled our win total from last year, and I can’t thank the seniors enough for their hard work and dedication over the years,” he said. “But we do have a good, young core group coming up and the future looks bright for our program, that’s for sure.”

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