The Blair softball team loaded onto a bus Saturday and traveled to Hastings a few days earlier than most.
Wanting to earn a spot in the Class B State Championships, which will be played in Hastings beginning Wednesday, the Bears needed to win 2-of-3 against the hometown Tigers in the Class B District 5 Finals. Instead, Hastings won 12-4 and 4-3, ending Blair's season at 12-13.
“There is always a possibility for more when you fall short of a goal, but these girls never have any less than their very best and, for that, I could have not asked for anything more,” BHS coach Jennifer Fangmeier said.
Hallie Lewis hit a homer and Hannah Koch had three hits in the first game, but Hastings' Kaelan Schultz finished with six RBIs in an eight-run Tiger victory. Her 3-run homer during the third inning broke a 2-all tie.
Then, during game No. 2, the Bears made a comeback from 3-1 down. They tied the game at 3-all, but Sammy Schmidt's second homer of the game gave Hastings a 4-3 advantage going into the bottom of the seventh frame.
“The seventh-inning was a nail-biter,” Fangmeier said, noting that her team put runners on base but couldn't quite get one home. “The girls left it all on the field and we couldn't have been prouder of them.”
Hastings stat-keepers had Ashlyn McMillen down for two RBIs in defeat.
The end of the season came in Hastings, but about a week before the Bears would have liked it to. Still, the coaches were proud of their team and the effort it put forth throughout the fall campaign.
“This team, and more specifically our senior class, was hard-working, selfless and (comprised of) positive leaders,” Fangmeier said. “As a coaching staff, we enjoyed being around this great group of girls — on the field and off the field. They have left big shoes to fill, but our underclassmen are ready the challenge.”