HASTINGS — Guardian Angels Central Catholic lost the opening game of the Class C state tournament to Central City 6-4.
But that didn’t stop the Bluejays from winning their way all the way through the losers bracket and capping off the tournament with a win over Kearney Catholic in the state championship game.
After the opening loss, Guardian Angels Central Catholic had a tough road ahead Thursday morning and Friday, but six wins later, Guardian Angels Central Catholic is the 2020 Class C state champion.
“We had the firepower — we just didn’t get it done that first game, but these kids still believed,” Guardian Angels Central Catholic coach Allan Kreikemeier said. “We were nervous coming back Thursday. Once we won that first game, it was eyes to the prize, and the kids took off.”
In the championship game against Kearney Catholic, GACC dominated in every aspect of the game, including in the circle, in the field and at the plate.
GACC was clean in the field with no errors, while senior Erin Franzluebbers was nearly perfect in the circle.
“I did a variety of pitches — I threw in changeups to mess with the batters and the ump was helping with both inside and outside pitches,” Franzluebbers said.
Franzluebbers allowed one hit and had three strikeouts in three innings of work. Franzluebbers also pitched in every inning of every game in the tournament for GACC.
“She’s a workhorse — she just stays under control,” Kreikemeier said.
The Bluejays led Kearney Catholic 1-0 after the first inning, and then the GACC bats came alive.
Kate Gnad started the second inning with a double to left-center field and then scored when the next batter, Kayla Fischer, singled to right field.
Fischer later scored on a single by Livia Hunke while Brynn Baumert walked and then scored on a single by Brenna Rief.
Hunke capped off the inning with one more run to make it 5-0 after Aubrey Kreikemeier hit a line shot to right field.
“We were hitting the ball hard,” Kreikemeier said.
One inning later, Gnad reached base on an error and then scored as the next batter, Fischer, drove a ball that went over the left-field fence.
GACC wasn’t done as Leah Jansen joined the hit parade with a solo home run to extend the lead to 8-0 and then Avery Kreikemeier hit a two-run home run over the center-field fence.
Two batters later, Aubrey Kreikemeier hit an opposite-field home run to right field, giving GACC a 12-0 lead, which sealed the deal.
“I was thinking we’ve got this in the bag,” Aubrey Kreikemeier said. “We had a job to get done, and it was a well-deserved win.”
GACC ended the game with 10 hits, including four home runs.
“Any girl in the lineup can hit a home run so that’s pretty special,” Kreikemeier said.
In the first game of the day, GACC trailed 1-0 through three innings to Bishop Neumann, but the Bluejays later scored three runs in the fourth inning and six in the fifth. They ended the game due to a run rule in five innings. Jansen and Jenna Schinstock each had home runs in the game.
In the next game, GACC led from start to finish over Kearney Catholic in the 7-3 victory, forcing the second game in the championship. Franzluebbers had a strong showing in the circle as she had seven strikeouts in seven innings.
GACC finishes the season with a 29-3 record as it heads back home with the championship hardware.
“It feels awesome — these girls have had this in mind the whole time to get it done,” Kreikemeier said.
Class C Game 15
Guardian Angels Central Catholic — 147 XXX X – 12 10 0
Kearney Catholic —000 XXX X – 0 1 2
WP: Franzluebbers; LP: Biddlecome; HR: GACC, Aubrey Kreikemeier, Avery Kreikemeier, Jansen, Fischer.
Class C Game 14
Kearney Catholic — 000 021 0 – 3 10 2
Guardian Angels Central Catholic — 130 300 X – 7 9 1
WP: Franzluebbers; LP: Biddlecome; 2B: KC, Schirmer, Nore.
Class C Game 13
Guardian Angels Central Catholic — 000 36X X – 9 9 1
Bishop Neumann — 001 00X X – 1 2 3
WP: Franzluebbers; LP: Sabatka; HR: GACC, Jansen, Schinstock.