Posters were made and congratulatory treats were purchased.
Then, the Class B No. 3 Blair softball team delivered Monday night at the Youth Sports Complex. The Bears (20-4 overall) crushed No. 7 Hastings (15-9) 11-0 in four innings, producing coach Jennifer Fangmeier's 100th career victory.
“It's exciting,” she said, clutching her Coca-Cola six pack and candy as her young daughters latched onto posters donning her name. “It was a fun night.”
Junior right-hander Kalli Ulven earned the shutout pitching win after also amassing four RBIs across the first two innings. With Nessa McMillen on base during the first inning, the standout Bear hit a two-run homer to give her team an early advantage it refused to relinquish.
“Nessa getting on and Kalli setting that tone, that first inning was huge,” Fangmeier said. “We knew we needed, offensively, to bring our bats tonight.”
A second-inning rally produced seven more runs as BHS earned a commanding, 9-0 lead.
“We like those a lot,” Fangmeier said. “Against a good team and a good pitcher.”
After Tessa Villotta's lead-off walk, Joslyn Policky bunted her to second base, setting up Bria Scott's RBI single. Cailey Anderson was hit by a pitch before Leah Chance's hit pushed the Bears' lead to 4-0.
Brooke Janning loaded the bases with a single prior to McMillen's free base on a pitch way too inside. Ulven's two-RBI single made the score 7-0, while back-to-back RBIs by Taylor Larson and Villotta pushed the advantage to nine runs with just two innings gone.
After Anderson squeezed a tough catch at the centerfield fence during the top half of the third inning, Ulven scored Janning and McMillen again when she hit into a two-run error.
From there, the pitcher earned three more outs in the fourth as the Bears produced Fangmeier's landmark win. The coach has led BHS teams for more than a decade, first assisting former head coaches Jon Small and Greg Gross before taking over in 2017. She produced a 17-8 season to start before a state qualification in 2018.
Since, Fangmeier's program has built to this season. It's off to a 20-4 start, which is already the coach's winningest campaign despite all of the past success.
“These girls really want it really bad,” she said, beaming after the gestures by her players, coaches and family beyond the fence. “And they're just good kids who work really hard. They deserve it.”
Assistant coach Krystal Macholan has been with Fangmeier her entire head coaching tenure, while Monica Maly, Rose Klein and Katie Christensen have also lent critical support to the Bears' overall efforts.
“Without them, I would not be here,” Fangmeier said, holding onto a smile she'd had the entire postgame interview. “I have to have them. I have to.”
Blair next plays Saturday during a Lincoln Southeast Invite at the Doris Bair Softball Complex.
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