Blair High School seniors Kalli Ulven and Nessa McMillen were among the Bears who watched the majority of Tuesday's 9-2 win from the home dugout.
With Class B's top-ranked squad ahead of 4-19 Lincoln Northwest 8-0, coach Jennifer Fangmeier and her staff opted to work their less-experienced roster members into the lineup.
McMillen agreed with the move, knowing full well how important reps can be for up-and-coming ballplayers.
“I love getting to watch them get out there and get exposed for next year because, like Nessa said, we are very heavy on seniors and they need to have some experience,” Ulven added.
“Yes, I do want to play as much as I can,” McMillen explained. “But I'm also happy for their successes.”
In their short time on the field against the Falcons, however, both Ulven and McMillen set school records Tuesday evening. McMillen surpassed Madie Kment with her 46th run scored this season, while Ulven bested Kailey Siemonsma's single-season RBI mark, becoming the first-ever Bear to hit 50.
“It just feels really good being able to contribute with all of the runs we have scored this year,” Ulven said. “It just makes me really proud that everyone is doing really good this year getting on base so I can bring them in.”
The slugger earned the record on a second-inning RBI double to centerfield. At that point, McMillen had already blasted her ninth homer of the season during Blair's 5-0 first inning.
“It's been really nice this year because I haven't been left on base a lot,” the Nebraska softball recruit said. “I credit Kalli, Bria (Scott), Sophia (Wrich) — all of the girls hitting behind me — because they have been doing a really good job at the plate and having good at-bats. And, on top of that, we've just had good base-running.”
Additionally, Bears Joslyn Policky, Claire Mann, Claire Anderson and Addison Warner tallied their own RBIs during Tuesday's win — BHS' 25th of the season. Anderson, notably, put the home team ahead 8-0 during the third inning with a two-run homer.
The blast sent the starters to the dugout for the rest of the game, but Ulven wasn't disappointed. She wants future Blair softball teams to have the same success as her's and experience on the diamond helps make that possible.
“Obviously, I still want them to be good,” she said with a smile after entering the record books Tuesday. “I don't want it to just die off after we leave.”
Bears top Class C No. 2
On Monday, the Bears traveled to Class C No. 2 Wahoo Neumann and won by nine runs, 10-1.
BHS, wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness, scored four runs during the second inning and added to its lead from there. Policky and Ulven hit homers, while Brooke Janning (three RBIs), McMillen (two) and Leah Chance added RBIs, too.
Defensively, Ulven earned the pitching win with just two hits allowed and 16 strikeouts. With the effort, the senior surpassed 100 Ks on the season. It's the third time in her four high school campaigns that she's done it.
Blair was scheduled to host Bennington in its regular season finale Thursday, but next competes in subdistrict play Monday. Unofficially, the Bears will host their bracket, though the schedule was not set as of press time.
BHS SOFTBALL LINE SCORES
No. 1 Blair 9, Lincoln Northwest 2
LNW (4-19) 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 2
BHS (25-4) 5 1 2 1 0 0 X — 9
No. 1 Blair 10, No. 2 Wahoo Neumann 1
BHS (24-4) 0 4 2 1 0 0 3 — 10
WN (18-5) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 1