The North Platte softball team, for the most part, were emotional following the loss to Papillion-La Vista in the NSAA State Softball Championship game in Hastings.
As they all lined up to receive their silver medals from their coach, Jeff Barner, many were hugging and crying. For some, the magnitude of the moment got to them. For the seniors, that’s the last time they’ll play softball as a Bulldog.
They ended their North Platte careers as runners-up to a team that didn’t allow a run all tournament.
On the final day of the state tournament, North Platte fell to Papillion-La Vista 12-0 in three innings on Friday. Earlier in the day, the Bulldogs downed Lincoln Southwest 7-6 to earn another shot at Papio and a state title.
North Platte ended its season 32-11, tying for the best finish in school history — a second-place finish in 1997 — and in the end, fell to a team that outscored its opponents 39-0 and allowed just 11 runs all season.
“I’m so incredibly proud of these girls,” Barner said. “They played really hard this year. We did some amazing things. We were just talking about 71 home runs. There’s very few teams in class A that have done that in the past. This might be one of the best teams to come through North Platte, if not the best.”
North Platte 7,
Lincoln Southwest 6
The Silver Hawks had a runner on third, down 7-6, with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Both teams had their seasons on the line.
That runner never scored. Madison Divis hit a hard shot that North Platte pitcher Tatum Montelongo stabbed, and then the North Platte sophomore struck out Taylor Fritz to end the game.
Behind an offensive surge in the second half of the game, the Bulldogs defeated Lincoln Southwest 7-6 to secure their spot in the championship game.
“It’s been amazing,” Barner had. “(Montelongo) had an awesome tournament. Really, she was just steady, just stayed the course. Didn’t let the pressure of the moment get to her. She was great all the way through. I can’t say enough about what Tatum did this week.”
Montelongo allowed six runs on eight hits while striking out seven batters. She fought out of a few jams, but a three-run home run in the fourth inning kept the Silver Hawks in the game.
While she gave up the homer in the top of the inning, Montelongo got some runs back when she hit a two-run dinger in the bottom. Ellie Hanson doubled to center, setting the stage for Montelongo’s shot to left center field.
The Bulldogs didn’t take control until they had bases loaded in the fifth inning. Abby Orr’s base-clearing double that flirted with the left field line put North Platte ahead 5-3. Hanson doubled to center the next at-bat to score Orr.
Montelongo struggled to start the sixth. Skylar Pieper walked and Madison Divis singled to move the runner to third. A bad throw to second allowed that runner to head home. Fritz followed with an RBI-single up the middle to make it 6-5 with one out.
A single and a walk loaded the bases, but Montelongo recovered by striking out the next two batters to preserve the lead.
“I knew coming into this year we would have a great team and I knew that we would make it to state and I knew that we would go far in state,” Montelongo said. “And it’s amazing that we made it all the way to the championship.”
The Bulldogs added a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the inning when Shelby Yoshida and Kaitlyn Aden hit a double and an RBI single, respectively.
The Silver Hawks added one more run in the seventh on an RBI double to center.
Papillion-La Vista 12,
North Platte 0 (three innings)
As great as Montelongo was in the state tournament, the Monarchs — a team that has gone undefeated in back-to-back seasons — broke the dam in the final game of the tournament.
The hits kept coming. Papillion-La Vista collected 12 in just three innings of play, and the Bulldogs could only watch as the Monarchs scored that final run and won the state title in a 12-0 mercy rule win.
“This team has really come along,” Barner said. “This senior group, I’ve coached them for a long time in summer ball and everything. I had no doubts we were capable of doing it, and it’s just all the hard work and time and effort that it takes to get there.”
Papillion-La Vista starting pitcher Jordyn Bahl shut down the Bulldogs’ offense for the second time in as many days. She pitched a perfect game in Thursday’s contest, but Tahjzha Botts hit a grounder to first base and reached when no one was covering. That was the only hit Bahl allowed against North Platte.
The Monarchs struck early. Bahl singled up the middle, then stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Brooke Dumont doubled to left field to score the first run, and Maggie Vasa doubled to center to bring her in. Kate Voisin singled later in the inning to put the third run on the board.
Papillion-La Vista scored four more in the second inning, fueled by a two-run shot from Haley Wilwerding.
In the third inning, North Platte only mustered one out on a fielder’s choice that scored a run. The Monarchs put up five runs on six hits, and the Bulldogs could only watch as Papillion-La Vista kept putting runners on. Vasa ended the game with an RBI single to center field to score Bahl.
“Tatum had pitched a lot,” Barner said. “We were a little tired. I knew it was going to take an extra-special effort out of her today to hold them down cause they’re so good. It’s one of those things where you just give it everything you got, and that’s all we can ask of these girls is to empty the tanks. And they did that.”
Class A Results
No.1 Papillion-La Vista def. No. 8 Papillion-La Vista South 10-0 (4 inn.)
No. 2 Lincoln Southwest def. No. 7 Bellevue East 12-11
No. 3 North Platte def. No. 6 Lincoln Southeast 4-1
No. 4 Omaha Marian def. No. 5 Lincoln East 3-0
Papillion-La Vista def. Omaha Marian 14-0 (5 inn.)
North Platte def. Lincoln Southwest 7-3
Papillion-La Vista def. North Platte 3-0
Lincoln East def. Papillion-La Vista South 9-1 (5 inn.)
Lincoln Southeast def. Bellevue East 12-2 (4 inn.)
Lincoln Southwest def. Lincoln East 9-1 (5 inn.)
Omaha Marian def. Lincoln Southeast 8-2
Lincoln Southwest def. Omaha Marian 11-2 (six inn.)
North Platte def. Lincoln Southwest 7-6
Papillion-La Vista def. North Platte 12-0 (3 inn.)
No. 1 Skutt Catholic def. No. 8 Elkhorn 6-0
No. 2 Hastings def. No. 7 Crete 8-2
No. 3 Norris def. No. 6 Grand Island Central Cathlic 8-3
No. 4 Northwest def. No. 5 Seward 8-7
Skutt Catholic def. Northwest 8-1
Norris def. Hastings 4-3
Skutt Catholic def. Norris 4-0
Elkhorn def. Seward 5-0
Grand Island Central Catholic def. Crete 9-6
Hastings def. Elkhorn 14-13
Northwest def. Grand Island Central Catholic 15-11 (8 inn.)
Hastings def. Northwest 8-6
Hastings def. Norris 3-2
Skutt Catholic def. Hastings 8-4
No. 8 Central City def. No. 1 GACC 6-4
No. 7 Malcom def. No. 2 Fairbury 16-3 (4 inn.)
No. 3 Bishop Neumann def. No. 6 Hastings STC 9-1 (6 inn.)
No. 5 Kearney Catholic def. No. 4 Auburn 9-5
Kearney Catholic def. Central City 11-1 (4 inn.)
Bishop Neumann def. Malcolm 11-3
Kearney Catholic def. Bishop Neumann 10-7
GACC def. Auburn 6-3
Fairbury def. Hastings STC 16-10
GACC def. Malcolm 5-1