LINCOLN — A strong start and finish covered a middling middle Wednesday as the Red team defeated the Blue squad 9-8 in the Nebraska Coaches Association all-star softball game.
After racing to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning at Bowlin Stadium, the Blues rallied to go ahead 6-5 in the fourth. But the Red team answered in the sixth and seventh.
“They got challenged a little bit,” said Red coach Mark Watt, from Lincoln Southwest. “It’s easy to sit back when you get five runs early when there wasn’t as much pressure.”
The Red squad pounced early as starter Amelia Jarecke struggled to find the zone. The Maryland recruit from Lincoln Pius X surrendered five runs on four walks and three hits.
A two-run single by Elkhorn South’s Molly Sindelar and an RBI single down the right-field line by Lincoln Southwest’s Amber Storer sparked the rally. Bellevue West’s Taylor Imhoff drove in a run on an infield groundout and another run scored on an infield error.
Team Blue got two runs back in the bottom of the first on the most exciting play of the game. Haleigh Hoefs of Pius laced a one-out single through the middle of the infield before Kearney’s Avery Wood sent a hard shot to right field.
The ball got past a diving right fielder and rolled to the base of the fence. Hoefs scored easily as Wood kept flying around the bases. Coach Tom McCall didn’t hesitate to wave Wood home. She slid ahead of a relay throw for an inside-the-park home run, the first in the 14th year of the event.
“Avery is a really aggressive player,” Milford’s McCall said. “She played at Kearney for a former player of mine (Natalie Madsen), so keeping up with how they were doing during the season helped me learn what kind of player Avery is.”
The Blue squad sliced its deficit with two more runs in the third inning. McCook’s Emily Jacobs singled to bring home Elkhorn South’s Morgan Nixon. Gretna’s Ady Watts, who singled to center after Nixon’s walk, scored after an error at first base.
In the fourth inning, Blue took a 6-5 lead. Millard North’s Kim Vidlak ripped a one-out double, then moved to third on a single by Wood. Camry Moore of Class B state champion Crete ripped a two-run single off York’s Karlee Seevers.
Two runs in the sixth and seventh innings allowed the Red squad to regain the lead. Millard West’s Adria Allen doubled and scored in the sixth, while Lincoln Southeast’s Kaitlyn Cook doubled home a run in the seventh.
Millard South’s Hailee Fliam earned the victory by holding the Blue team to two runs in the final five innings.
“She really did a great job of mixing her speeds and hitting her spots,” Watt said.
Red………500 002 200—9 15 1
Blue……..202 200 200—8 12 1
W: Hailee Fliam. L: Lauren Jurek. 2B: R, Kylee Nixon, Adria Allen, Kaitlyn Cook. B, Kim Vidlak, Haleigh Hoefs. HR: B, Avery Wood. Att.: 773