HASTINGS – When an opponent with five at-bats all season hits two home runs against you, it’s a good sign that it isn’t going to be your day.
Northwest found that out firsthand Thursday at the Class B state softball tournament at the Smith Softball Complex.
Madison Deane hit a pair of homers from the No. 9 spot in the lineup to help No. 2-rated Elkhorn South top No. 6 Northwest 10-2 in five innings in an elimination game.
Deane was just 1-for-5 for the season entering the game.
"That just shows you how strong they are top-to-bottom," Northwest coach Dave Prokesh said. "They’re tremendously skilled. Their kids compete at a high level in the summer and obviously coach (Terry) Graver is one of the top coaches in the state. He’s going to get everything out of those kids.
"They’re tough. Unfortunately we weren’t able to compete with them today like we wanted to."
The Storm (26-6) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Vikings (30-5) were able to answer on Addie Simmons’ two-run, two out single in the bottom of the frame.
Elkhorn South pitcher Nicole Schaefer didn’t allow another run the rest of the way.
Nicole Hullinger hit her third homer of the tournament in the third, and Deane’s blasts came in the fourth and fifth innings.
"It was a tough one," Prokesh said. "Unfortunately we’re probably not quite there yet. We’ve made a lot of strides with our program the last couple of years to compete at this level.
"We just didn’t have it today. That’s a good team we lost to."
The coach said the loss isn’t indicative of the season as a whole for the Vikings.
"This doesn’t take away from what we accomplished over the year," Prokesh said. "We had a tremendous year — four tournament championships and another trip to the state tournament. We have a lot to hang our hat on. I’m proud of the kids."
Northwest qualified for the state tournament and won a game there for the second straight year.
"It’s a good sign we’re coming," Prokesh said. "We’ve made some huge strides. Hopefully the kids have the right mentality to continue to do the type of skills work in the offseason to improve and keep us here."
A strong senior class that helped the program take a huge step up will be missed.
"We’ll lose several seniors, and they’ve been very good for us," Prokesh said. "We do have some good kids waiting in the wings that are hungry and working on their skills. We think they’ll be ready to step up and keep this program at this level and hopefully move forward.
"It will be difficult to replace some of the kids that we have – the Shelby Schachers, the Ashley Scherers, people like that. They’ve been very, very important to our program. But we have to move on and keep looking for good things in the future."
Elkhorn South ............................. 212 14—10 11 1
Northwest .................................. 201 00—2 4 3
WP—Schaefer (15-2). LP—Vanosdall (20-4). HR—ES, Hullinger (6), Deane 2 (1, 2).