Two tough losses, one to the Lincoln Journal Star’s top ranked team in Class C and the other via a late-game rally could prove to benefit a young Falls City Tiger softball team.
FC, now 7-4, shutout Johnson County Central 7-0 in the opening round of the Auburn Tournament, but dropped their final two games — both via late-inning heroics by their opponents — to finish in fourth place.
After defeating JCC, the Lady Tigers fell to No. 1 Bishop Neumann (ranked second in last Thursday’s Omaha World Herald) in Neumann’s final at bat when Jessie Briley’s walk-off bloop single scored Lauen Vasa in the bottom of the seventh and secured a 1-0 victory.
It was Briley’s first hit of the game and just the third of the game by Neumann off of FC pitcher Kirstyn Buchholz, who pitched masterfully in defeat.
Buchholz struck out nine and allowed only two hits prior to the walk-off single.
“The game was Kirstyn’s best pitching performance of the season,” FC head coach Jason Bredemeier said of his senior ace.
Bredemeier added that the defense behind Buchholz played great against a tough Neumann lineup.
“Our defense was stellar,” he said. “Neumann’s entire lineup was filled with great hitters.”
FC and Syracuse, who defeated Auburn but lost to eventual champion Wymore Southern in the semis, battled for third place and through five-and-a-half innings appeared to be headed for another tight finish. FC trailed 5-4 after scoring one in the top of the six, but Syracuse erupted for five runs in the bottom half to pull away.
Allyson Scholl, Sydney Armbruster, Morgan Bletscher, Brooke Scheitel, Bailey Armbruster and Buchholz each recorded a hit against Syracuse. Sydney Armbruster, Haley Cochran Brittany Ritter and Buchholz scored one run apiece, while Bletscher, Bailey Armbruster and Payshince Dawkins each picked up a RBI.
FC has now played a pair of top-ranked teams in Class C with Wahoo being the other. The Lady Tigers fell 4-2 to Wahoo in the Freeman Invite.
Bredemeier said that although the losses hurt, they could prove to benefit his team later in the season, especially with three freshmen starting.
“It ended up being a tough day for us, but playing this type of competition will only make us better down the road.”
FC hosts Conestoga (3-6) tonight for Parent’s Night with the junior varsity teams scheduled to start at 5. Thursday the Lady Tigers travel to Fairbury for a triangular with Johnson County Central.
The Falls City Invitational is Saturday at the Fiedler Family Ball Complex and Morehead Field at Grandview Park. In the top half of the bracket FC (7-4) will face Syracuse (6-4) on Vandeberg Field, while Wymore Southern (8-2) takes on Wilber-Clatonia (2-6) on Hartman Field. The bottom half features Fairbury/Thayer Central (6-2) against Auburn/HTRS (5-5) on F&M Field and Cass County Central (6-2) will play Conestoga (3-6) at Morehead Field. The championship game is scheduled for 12:45 at Hartman Field; Third place game is set for 12:45 on F&M Bank Field; Fifth place consolation will be played at 12:45 on Vandeberg Field. Team records are current as of Tuesday morning. All first round games begin at 9 a.m.