As the eighth seed in Class B, not many people gave the Seward softball team a chance at the state softball tournament.
The Bluejays, however, took advantage of being an underdog and finished third overall, going 3-2 and losing to eventual champion Wayne twice.
“It was a ton of fun,” Coach Rich Eber said.
Seward opened against top-seeded Omaha Skutt and beat the Skyhawks 7-1.
“That was our best game of the year as a whole with everyone contributing,” Eber said.
Skutt’s leadoff hitter connected for a first-inning home run, but that was all the offense the Skyhawks could muster Oct. 16. Hannah Benedict’s home run in the second inning tied the score, and Grace Hamling and Haley Marshall hit back-to-back home runs in the third for a 3-1 lead.
Sydney Parra got the win in the circle, striking out eight in seven innings.
The win put Seward into the second round against Wayne, a team that beat the Jays twice in the subdistrict tournament. The Blue Devils picked up where they’d left off, throwing another no-hitter against the Jays and winning 8-0.
The Jays dropped to the elimination bracket to play Norris Oct. 17. The Bluejay offense got going early, scoring three runs in the first and five in the second en route to an 11-2 win.
Jordin Battaglia and Parra had two hits each, including a double by Battaglia.
Parra pitched all five innings and held the Titans to two runs.
That set up a rematch with Skutt, and the Jays got the win again, this one 4-2.
“We knew it would be interesting,” Eber said. “We knew they would want us again.”
Skutt took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning. Battaglia led off the top of the seventh with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a single by Hamling. Both scored on an RBI double by Marshall to take the lead.
Battaglia was 3-4 to lead the offense. Hamling, Marshall and Parra had two hits each, and Marshall drove in three runs.
Parra pitched all seven innings and struck out eight.
The Bluejays had to play Wayne again in another elimination game Oct. 18, with the winner advancing to the championship. Wayne again got the better of SHS, this time 9-1.
Battaglia was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, stole second and third and scored on a bunt by Hamling.
Eber said the Jays committed a big error in the third inning that allowed Wayne to score four runs.
“We were deflated after that,” he said.
Battaglia was 2-2 with a double for Seward. She stole four bases in the game and had seven steals in the tournament. Eber said she set a new school record for stolen bases in a season.
The Jays finished the season 23-15. Six seniors will graduate – Battaglia, Marshall, Danielle Klenke, Claire Karel, Gillian Mettenbrink and Camden Peery.
“They’re a great group of kids. They gave everything they had,” Eber said.