HASTINGS — Guardian Angels Central Catholic had top-seeded Fairbury in a position it hasn’t experienced at this year’s state softball tournament.
The second-seeded Bluejays led the Lady Jeffs 3-1 after three innings, but Fairbury took advantage of a pair of Bluejay miscues in the fourth to turn the game around, scoring four runs in the fourth and adding three more in the sixth to pull away with an 8-4 win in the semifinals of the Class C State Softball Championships at the Smith Softball Complex.
It was the first loss of the tournament for the 27-4 Bluejays, who will now have to win a rematch with Auburn — a team they beat 15-7 in Wednesday’s opening round — in Friday’s 11:30 a.m. matchup if they want to get a second chance against Fairbury.
Things looked good early on for the Bluejays. They matched Fairbury’s run in the top of the first with a sacrifice fly Jenna Schinstock that scored Brenna Rief, who opened the inning with a single. The Bluejays put up two in the third when Rief scored on an error and Marissa Hunke singled home Kate Gnad to make it 3-1.
The Bluejays looked to be getting out of a jam in the fourth, but a mishandled ground ball by second baseman Livia Hunke allowed a run to score, and a single and an error plated three more to turn the Lady Jeffs’ fortunes around.
“You have to play good when you’re out here, and we had that one inning where we kind of fell apart,” coach Allen Kreikemeier said after the game. “If we make that play at second, they don’t score a run and we’ve got a whole different game, but those things happen and you have to overcome those mistakes.”
It was something the Bluejays couldn’t put together and Fairbury added three more in the sixth to put the game out of reach before GACC closed with an RBI single by Schinstock that scored Marissa Hunke in the bottom of the seventh.
“We were focused early on and were really pushing them, but that’s a good team an you have to keep after it all game long,” Kreikemeier added.
Schinstock had three of GACC’s eight hits in the game and Kayla Fischer added two, including a double. Erin Franzluebber pitched well in the losing effort, striking out 11 and allowing just three earned runs.
The Bluejays will have to get past Auburn first to get another shot at the Lady Jeffs, but Kreikemeier is optimistic that his team can get the job done.
“It’s going to be a long day, but I feel we can come back,” he said. “We proved that we can play with these guys, and maybe the ball will bounce our way. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Fairbury 8, GACC 4
Fairbury 100 403 0 — 8 11
GACC 102 000 1 — 4 8
WP: Mans. LP: Franzluebber. 2B: Johnson. 3B: Fischer.