North Platte softball slides past West Platte for district title

Regan Nash doesn’t spend much time thinking about her personal accomplishments. The North Platte senior outfielder stayed humble even after her speed plated both runs for the Panthers in a 2-1 Class 2 District 14 championship game victory against West Platte on Oct. 11 at Missouri Western Spring Sports Complex in St. Joseph, Mo.With the schedule altered from rain earlier in the week, North Platte hammered Plattsburg in the semifinals then rallied to tie West Platte in the bottom of the sixth and score the walk-off winner in the bottom of the 10th.

“We just came into this knowing we were able and capable of it,” Nash said. “We are so close as a team and believe in each other. We are just a family.”

North Platte (25-1) advances to the playoffs for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2010 and 2011. The Panthers now look a threat to reach the state semifinals for the second time in school history, hosting Holden (14-11) on Oct. 15 with the winner playing either Hamilton (18-7) or Brookfield (19-6) in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.

North Platte did lose its shot an unblemished KCI Conference title with a 3-0 loss to Hamilton in their Oct. 6 regular-season finale.

Third-seeded West Platte (20-7) knocked off defending state champion Bishop LeBlond in the earlier semifinals but settled for a school-record for wins in a season and Abby Summers’ new state record as consolation after losing to North Platte for a third time this year.

Committed to play at Division I Florida International, Summers struck out 35 in two games to run her season total to 382, topping the mark of 380 former Missouri Western All-American Jackie Bishop set at Kirksville in 2009. The strikeouts appeared set to continue West Platte’s season until Nash — bound to play at the University of Missouri — found a way on in the sixth after striking out.

“We made them earn that win,” West Platte coach Angelica Maxwell said. “I don’t think they came out and thought they would play West Platte 10 innings.”

West Platte led 1-0 after Taylor Binkley led off the top of the sixth with a single, going to third on a two-base error. She scored one batter later when Summers grounded out to shortstop.

Summers, who fanned 16 in a shutout of LeBlond earlier in the day, whiffed Nash to start North Platte’s half of the sixth, but she reached on a passed ball. After Nash stole second, Sarah Johnson’s double to left field scored the tying unearned run.

Starting with Johnson, the Panthers put the potential winning run on second in the sixth, seventh and eighth but didn’t score again until Nash came up again in the 10th. She reached for the second time with a single, stole second again and went to third on Johnson’s sacrifice bunt.

Kaycee Hodgson followed with a ground ball to shortstop, and the throw home trying to cut down Nash was not in time.

“Regan, when she goes, we win the ball game,” North Platte coach Ron Resler said. “Earlier, she didn’t get on base until her third at-bat. She makes so much happen with her speed. Sometimes you are better to be lucky than good. Regan struck out and got on base. She makes things happen — big time.”

North Platte pitcher Victoria Haugsness recorded both wins, including a no-hitter in a 15-0 run-rule four-inning victory against Plattsburg earlier in the day. The Panthers hit seven doubles, including a pair of RBI two-baggers from Nash and Johnson in a seven-run third.

Chelsi Sams added a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth ahead of the winning run.

LeBlond put runners on in five of seven innings against Summers in the other semifinal, but a second-inning run on two walks, a catcher’s interference and a groundout held up for West Platte. Bailey Hiatt’s RBI groundout plated Jodi Meyer for the eventual winning run.