Oh so close. Deja` vu.
The Boone Central Cardinals finished as softball district tournament runners-up for the second straight season Saturday, once again just a final step away from state tourney qualification.
A year ago, it was Northeast Nebraska powerhouse Wayne that denied the Cardinals a trip to Hastings. In the 2019 C-5 District, Class C #3 Guardian Angels Central Catholic (25-3) was the foil, twice defeating Boone Central in the tournament’s final round.
It was a district performance and successful 18-14 season that left first-year Coach Jeff Hrabik proud, and optimistic about the program’s future.
“I thought this group of girls fought hard all season. We really only had what I would consider three bad games. We played well in the rest of them,” Hrabik praised. “At district, I felt like we played really well. An improvement from last year, as we were not satisfied with runner-up – we really wanted to go and get the championship plaque. We went and competed, even though the odds were stacked against us.”
Boone Central had no problem dispatching teams that weren’t GACC in the district competition.
The Cardinals opened C-5 play with an 11-1 four-inning rout of Madison/Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family (0-20) Wednesday, scoring nine runs in the third inning. The outburst was fueled by triples from Claire Choat, Madisyn Cunningham and Mattie Young, and Lauren Hedlund’s two-run home run. Boone Central advanced to the winner’s bracket final with a methodical 13-2 blowout of Highway 91 (15-12). The Cardinals scored three runs in each of the second and third innings and again ended the contest early with six final runs in the fourth. BC doubled down on the Cyclones, with Choat (2), Cunningham, Ashtyn Hedlund and Olnes all collecting two-base hits.
Due to cold weather and wet playing conditions, the remainder of the tournament was suspended until Saturday, with the Cardinals and GACC leading off action.
In a back-and-forth slugfest, Guardian Angels CC (25-3) produced the two biggest innings, scoring five runs in the third and six in the fifth of a 19-9 victory. Cunningham and Brooke Groth doubled home first-inning runs for Boone Central, Choat had a two-run triple in the second and the Cards had their own four-run frame in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to offset the Bluejay outbursts.
Boone Central bounced back to defeat O’Neill 11-3 and earn a rematch with GACC in the championship round. The Cardinals got a leadoff home run by Lauren Hedlund in the first, setting the tone, and boosted their lead to 5-0 in the third with Lauren Hedlund bopping a second homer. BC scored four again in the top of the fourth and, after O’Neill plated three in the bottom of the frame, used back-to-back jacks by Lauren Hedlund and Choat to end the contest by eight-run rule.
With its season on the line, Boone Central pushed Guardian Angels CC to the limit before falling 11-5 in the final. Both teams scored three times in the third inning, giving the Cards a 4-3 edge, but GACC knotted the score with a single run in the fifth, then plated five runs in the sixth. Ashtyn Hedlund smacked a home run in the seventh, but it was not enough to generate a rally.
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