KEARNEY — Kearney High softball players had a school record in their grasp, and in their heads.
Grand Island Northwest’s Emily Stein had other ideas.
With three wins Saturday in Lincoln, Kearney improved to 8-0, tying the school record for the best start in school history. A win in the opener Tuesday at Patriot Park would have given this team sole possession of that record. But Stein quieted the Bearcats’ prolific offense in a 5-1 Viking victory.
“They have a great little pitcher`and her rise ball just threw us off a little bit,” Kearney coach Barb Wegner said.
Karleigh Scott had two of Kearney’s three hits and Haley Becker scored the Bearcats’ lone run, which came in the fifth inning.
Northwest (5-1) collected seven hits and scored in each of the first three innings.
“Everyone was excited thinking about the record and not just playing ball,” Wegner said. “And that’s OK. We learned from it. ... We talked about, ‘if we lose a game at districts, if we lose a game at state, are we going to give up or are we going to keep fighting.’ So everybody decided we’re going to keep fighting and that’s what I love about these girls.”
That’s what made the 7-6, extra-inning victory in the nightcap so special.
Kearney scored three in the first, fell behind 5-3 in the third, tied it in the bottom of the third, then scored in the bottom of the eighth to improve to 9-1.
“We came out on top of their first pitcher pretty hard and they pulled her after a few batters. I think they were out of their own heads and decided just to hit the ball,” Wegner said.
Kearney finished with 10 hits. Marisa Chamberlin led the way with three hits, including a double and a solo home run. Bella Molina added a double.
With two out in the eighth, Abby Heins’ ground ball out of reach of the second baseman scored Molina, who had been placed at second under tie-breaker rules.
Becker pitched a complete game to get the win, while Stein, who came on in the first inning, took the loss.