FAIRBURY – The playing conditions for Thursday’s Class C, District 3 softball tournament in Beatrice between the Centennial Broncos and Malcolm Clippers was, to put it lightly, not ideal.
The teams were faced with temperatures in the 30s that were accompanied by moisture and wind. In the end, Malcolm came out on top with an 11-3 win in five innings, which ended Centennial’s season at 24-11.
“Brutal conditions today for an elimination district tournament game, but both teams had to deal with the elements, so credit Malcolm on their performance today,” Centennial head coach Jake Polk said.
Malcolm out-hit Centennial 14-4 in the game. Sydney Kinnett, Erika Cast, Daylee Dey and Aurora Junge all recorded one hit. Kinnett had the only RBI.
Malcolm jumped the Broncos early with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Centennial didn’t get on the board until the fourth, cutting its deficit to 4-1, but the Clippers responded by rattling off a six-run fourth to take a commanding 10-1 advantage.
The Broncos tried to rally in the fifth, but could only cross the plate twice.
Cast and Dey saw action in the circle for Centennial.
The Broncos rewrote the record book at Centennial in 2019. They hit 29 home runs in the season, two of which were inside-the-park homers, which broke the previous record of 17 set in 2012 and tied last year.
“I’m extremely proud of this team that represented Centennial on the softball diamond,” Polk said. “This team isn’t large in numbers (17), but they are mighty and passionate in softball.”
Centennial’s softball program says goodbye to five seniors, including Chaylee Tonniges, Kinnett, Cast, Junge and Hunter Hartshorn.
Seven juniors will take on more of a leadership role next year as seniors. That group includes Jillian Bailey, Asia Nisly, Kailey Ziegler, Maddie Avery, Morgan Steckly, Dey and Kierra Green.
“The legacy the seniors leave includes 81 wins over the past four years, a district runner-up, a conference title, a district title and a fourth-place finish at state,” Polk said. “I’m proud to have coached this team.”
Centennial went 2-2 at the district tournament, with the two wins coming against David City Aquinas (14-2) and Wilber-Clatonia (6-5), the latter of which was highlighted by a two-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh from Hartshorn.