The North Platte High School softball team quaified for the state tournament for the first time since 2004 Friday after dominating McCook 9-1 in the district championship game. It was the Lady Dawgs second win over the gritty McCook team in the tournament at the Dowhower Softball Complex. North Platte prevailed earlier in a 3-2 game.
The Lady Dawgs defeated McCook 9-1 in the B-6 final with the help of a four-run fifth inning.
NPHS (25-9) scored a run in the first inning. But McCook (18-13) answered back in the second with a two-out RBI single by Lauren Koetter off of pitcher Kaite Franzen.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the third when Marissa Ramos hit a one out double.
Then in the fourth, North Platte scored two more. Kylie Engleman crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Courney Bradley, and then Franzen hit a two-out single.
The Lady Dawgs broke the game wide open in the fifth. Kenzi Wiseman claimed the single-season NPHS home run record with a homer to make the score 5-1. Engleman followed with a two-run homer shortly thereafter.
The Bison changed pitchers from Bradley to Maddie Elder, but NPHS scored one more run in the inning on a single by Franzen.
In the sixth, Wiseman added to her home run record with another solo shot to make it the score 9-1.
Lady Bulldog pitcher Jenny Keck, who relieved Franzen in the third inning, threw her fourth scoreless inning in the bottom of the sixth to put the eight-run rule into effect and end the game.
In the first game against McCook on Friday, the Bulldogs scored the first run after Engleman's sacrifice fly to right-center field in the fourth inning.
In the sixth, Keck scored on a wild pitch by Bradley to give North Platte a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Bulldogs added another run after Franzen reached on an infield single with one out.
Ramos, the North Platte pitcher, ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Koetter reached on an error by shortstop Sally Hengen to load the bases with one out.
Keck then relieved Ramos and got pinch hitter flew out to Franzen at first base for the inning-ending double play.
McCook gave NPHS a scare in the seventh, as well. Kylie Allen scored the Bison's first run of the game on a sacrifice with no outs. Then with two outs, Samantha Kalinski singled into left field to make it 3-2.
But Elder hit a ground ball to Hengen who threw it to Franzen, who made the stretch to collect the out and end the game.
After losing to North Platte, McCook went on to defeat Gering 10-9 and get a chance to face NPHS again.
To open the tournament Thursday, the No. 1-seed Bulldogs defeated Cozad 9-2.
The Class B State softball tournament is Oct. 16-18 in Hastings.