The Fort Calhoun softball season ended Thursday at the Class C District 1 Tournament in Arlington, but not before the seventh-seeded Pioneers put a scare into No. 2 Wahoo Neumann.
The Pioneers led 2-1 after one inning, cut the Cavaliers lead to 4-3 on Kennedy Bradburn's third-inning homer and had the tying run on second base when the game ended.
Neumann notched a 6-5 win, sending coach Ginger Appel's team into a elimination game against Yutan/Mead, which the Patriots won 13-3.
Fort Calhoun finished the season 1-20.
“It's been a challenge for all of them,” Appel said. “But they showed a lot of heart here.”
That heart was on display during the seventh inning against Neumann. Sophomores Maddie Reed and Dru Tripp were on base when Bradburn ripped a two-RBI single. Tripp slid across home plate safe for the Pioneers' fifth run. They needed one more, but didn't quite get it.
“They did a really good job of just keeping it going,” Appel said of Fort Calhoun's fall. “All season long we've talked about our goals. I really tried to get them to focus on how we're progressing as a team, not gauging our success off of our record.”
Senior Kinsley Wimer had an RBI against Yutan, but the Patriots' nine-run second inning put them firmly in control. The loss was the Pioneer seniors' last.
“They did a great job of keeping them going and getting them to realize, too, that you have to start somewhere and keep going,” Appel said. “They were good leaders for us.”
Fort Calhoun's season hit 20 losses, but the coach saw progress up until its final day.
“Hopefully, they recognize where we started and where we ended up today,” Appel said.