Discoverer softball closes 2018

October 9, 2018

The season ended for Columbus High softball on Friday morning in an 11-3 loss to Bellevue West.

The Thunderbirds put the Discoverers on the brink of district elimination the day before in a tournament-opening 11-2 loss, then eliminated them for good in Friday’s rematch.

Columbus bounced back from Thursday’s opening loss with a 15-5 victory over Lincoln High in the loser’s bracket but faced Bellevue West again, needing a win to advance to the championship series. But, it went down 11-2.

Columbus ends the season 11-18 and says goodbye to eight seniors.

“I think we played well. We had our moments. There were times we played a little tight, which was a little unusual for us, but we competed in all of our games,” coach Paul Braun said. “We had some mistakes that might have been a little uncharacteristic, especially that first inning when we might have been tight against Bellevue West, but we competed.”

Needing a win to stay alive, both sides went scoreless in the first before Bellevue West took command in the second with seven runs. It was 8-0 until the fifth when Alyssa Turner drove in the first two runs thanks to a walk, sacrifice bunt then two more walks.

A rain delay left it there for an hour, followed by a Tayler Braun walk to load the bases once more. A strikeout and a deep fly to center left the bags full.

The Thunderbirds scored three more in the sixth followed by the Discoverers’ final run. Kate Smith singled and was replaced by courtesy runner Addison Huele who eventually crossed the plate after a groundout, a walk and then RBI single from Melani Jones.

Turner was 1-4 with the RBI, Jones 1 for 4 with one driven in, Braun 1 for 2 and Smith 2 for 2 with a double

“The win-loss record wasn’t where we wanted it to be, and your ultimate goal when you start the season is to get to state, but the one thing I learned about this group was, no matter what the score was, we were never out of the game,” Braun said. “These kids always kept playing. They maximized their effort when they were on the field. They gave us everything they have.”

With a schedule like the one Columbus faced, that was a necessity every time out. Regular season matchups included Class A No. 4 Millard West, No. 5 Omaha Marian, No, 8 Grand Island and No. 10 Norfolk and Class B No. 1 Elkhorn, No. 2 Beatrice, No. 4 Skutt and No. 10 Hastings.

Columbus struggled at times during that kind of a daunting schedule but picked up wins over Grand Island and Norfolk.

“They gave us their maximum effort and progressed through the season. All in all, I think we had a successful season,” Braun said. “All in all it was a good, competitive year.”

Columbus was most competitive at the plate.

From August through early October, the Discoverer offense was the most consistent part of the team. In six wins, the bats produced 10 or more runs; 13 times, the offense scored six or more.

Whether or not that continues is the question. Graduations every year affect the makeup and style of a team. Next year, Columbus may have to do it a different way.

“I think you might see a little bit more of a team that’s more small ball, more hit and run, more bunt and run, take advantage of the speed you have,” Braun said. “It’s hard to say; there were some good bats on the JV team as well.”

And while it may or may not be different, the cupboard certainly isn’t empty.

“We’ve got some pieces in place. We had a really nice freshmen class this year, a lot of athletic, speed kids who I think will help us in the future. Some of them will obviously need to step in next year as sophomores,” Braun said.

Columbus graduates seniors Katelynn Darling, Paige Jeffryes, Rylie Olson, Abriella Robak, Larisa Rother, Turner and Macee Trotta.

“You always hate to see seniors go away, but that’s part of it. To have one last moment in the circle with them, that was special,” Braun said. “They’ve left a positive imprint on the program. They’ve been a big part of what we’ve done the past three or four years.”

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com

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