LINCOLN—Fremont softball survived a drama filled district-opener against Grand Island with a walk-off 7-6 win only to finish the day on the other end of walk-off, falling 6-4 to Lincoln East in the Class A District 4 semifinals.
Fremont (28-12) will see Grand Island again Thursday for a spot in the district championship game after the Islanders beat Bellevue West 3-1 in the first elimination game of the tournament.
“They have an opportunity to come back tomorrow and the goal is to see East again and try and take one more set forward,” said Fremont coach Michael Schleicher.
Lincoln East 6, Fremont 4: Three two-run home runs by the Spartans was enough to hand the Tigers their first loss of the district tournament.
Fremont lost 3-1 to East in the HAC conference tournament this past weekend in their first and only meeting this fall after the regular season meeting was rained out. The loss allowed the Tigers to retool their game plan coming for attacking the No. 3 team in Class A.
“Our focus all week in practice was trying to make some adjustments and I thought right up until the end, we did the majority of those things, but fell a little short again,” Schleicher said.
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Fremont carried the momentum of their walk-off win over Grand Island into the second game of the day, jumping on East for three runs through the first three innings.
“I liked that we ended with some excitement and really carried that in,” Schleicher said.
Kylie Phillips got the Tigers on the board with a solo shot to left in the top of the second, skipping the first pitch she saw off the top of the fence for a 1-0 Fremont lead.
Phillips notched her second extra base hit of the game in the third, sending a double to the right field gap to score Ella Cooper, who reached on a walk, from first.
Mackenzie Kinning drove in Phillips with a single to right, cementing Fremont’s lead at 3-0.
East drew within one with its first two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth.
Fremont maintained its lead until the bottom of the sixth, when the Spartan’s second blast of the game pushed them in front 4-3.
The Tigers got down to their final out before battling to tie the game up at 4-4.
Phillips worked a five-pitch walk to get the tying run aboard, then Kinning came through with a double to center.
East’s third home run ended the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Cooper tossed all 13 1/3 innings on the day for Fremont. She did not allow a hit outside of the three home runs to East, striking out five while walking four in a follow up to her 14 strikeouts against Grand Island.
“She was able to refocus in the little break we had and she really worked the game plan very well,” Schleicher said.
Fremont out hit Lincoln East seven to three in the loss with Phillips and Kinning combining for five of the seven hits.
Fremont 7, Grand Island 6: The Tigers district opener featured five lead changes and two ties before Zoey Bisson secured the victory with a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh.
The Tigers went into the bottom of the seventh facing a 6-6 tie after giving up the lead in the top half of the inning.
Maggie McClain launched a double to left, finishing off her 3-for-4 afternoon, to start frame.
“Maggie had by far the best game I’ve seen out of her this year, just going up to the plate with a ton of confidence and really swinging it at good pitches,” Michael Schleicher said.
Bisson tagged the first pitch she saw from Islander reliever for a one-hopper off the left field fence, scoring courtesy runner Jenna McClain from second.
It was the bottom of the Tigers line-up that propelled its offense with Adisyn Mendlik, McClain and Bisson accounting for seven of its 13 hits and five RBI.
“Any given day one through nine can do the job and today it was seven, eight, nine,” Schleicher said.
McClain started her afternoon with an RBI double to right, scoring Mendlik, who reached on a single, from first.
Grand Island parlayed a lead-off double into a pair of runs as Fremont struggled to defend against the bunt with an error and a squeeze play giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
McClain notched her second and third RBI of the game in the fourth, depositing a single into right for a 3-2 Tigers lead.
Kylie Phillips extended Fremont’s lead to 4-2 with a single in the fourth, scoring Mallory Schleicher, who reached on a double.
Fremont’s lead lasted until the sixth, when Grand Island returned to small ball, resulting in two runs off a defensive collapse by the Tigers.
The Islander took the lead at 5-4 on an RBI single to right.
Mendlik came though for Fremont in the home half of the inning, doubling down the left field line with the bases loaded, scoring two runs to put the Tigers in front 6-5.
Fremont nearly escaped with the win in the top of the sixth with Cooper securing back-to-back strikeouts after a lead-off walk.
The Islanders tied the game at 6-6 with a double that was inches away from leaving the ball park.
Cooper settled in to end the frame with her 14th strikeout of the day, setting up Bisson’s heroics.