The good news for the North Platte High School softball team is that they are still alive in district play after the first day.But the bad news is that they have their backs against the wall going into Friday.
On Thursday, in the first day of the A-7 tournament at the Dowhower Softball Complex, the Lady Dawgs beat Kearney 3-2 in the first round but lost 7-0 to Bellevue West in the second game.
That means that NPHS (18-11) will play Omaha Central (9-21) in an elimination game at 10 am Friday for the chance to play Bellevue West in the finals, where the Bulldogs will have to win two more games should they get past Central.
"We're in a tough spot," said North Platte coach B.J. Songster. "To come back and win three games in one day is tough but I think the girls have it in them."
As the host team and the top-seed, the Lady Bulldogs opened the day playing its arch-nemesis and No. 4-seed.
Both teams had opportunities to score but they both found a way to get the timely third out in the first two innings.
In the top of the third inning, Kearney (12-22) scored the first run on Sydney Omtvedt singled into center field.
But in the bottom of the fourth, NPHS got the bases loaded against Bearcat pitcher Kaci Drahota and with one out, Songster inserted pinch hitter Sadie Vargas in place of Rachel Kosmacek in the ninth spot in the batting order.
Vargas nearly hit a grand slam, but it was just a long out after being caught in left field. But it was good enough to tie the game as a sacrifice fly.
Then Kaite Franzen hit a bloop single that fell just over the right side of the infield, scoring two runs and giving the Lady Dawgs a 3-1 lead.
Kearney got one run back right away in the fifth when Omtvedt reached on an error by shortstop Sally Hengen.
But that was all the Bearcats mustered against North Platte pitcher Ashten Hernandez the rest of the way.
In the top of the seventh, Hernandez retired the top three hitters in Kearney's lineup in order to finish the game.
Songster said that her team got just enough hits to get by while the pitching of Hernandez and the defense did the rest.
"It was tough to get the bats going," she said. "Thankfully, we got the breaks in that one. The defense kept us in the game. Ashten pitched a great game and our outfielders were great."
In the second game, NPHS played No. 2-seed Bellevue West (20-9) who routed Central 9-1 in their district opener. Central, in turn, defeated Kearney in the first elimination game to make it to Friday.
Bellevue West scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch by Hernandez in the first inning.
Then in the third, the Thunderbirds added to the lead. Hannah Stoysich scored on the squeeze play by beating Sydney Standage's flip to the plate after Standage fielded Makenzie Prusha's bunt.
Linzy Heim then followed with a one-out double to left-center that made it 3-0.
Two innings later, West scored again via the squeeze play with Jennifer Mitera bunting Lauren Crouch home. The Thunderbirds scored two more runs in the fifth for a commanding 6-0 lead.
Bellevue West scored the final run of the game when Heim led off the seventh with a home run.
Despite two RBIs, Heim did must of her damage in the circle. The senior pitcher shut the Bulldogs down for the second consecutive time. On Sept. 22, Heim beat North Platte 4-0 in the Lincoln Southeast Invite.
"We just couldn't get the bats going," said Songster. "(Heim) wasn't overpowering but for some reason, we just weren't able to hit her."