STATE SOFTBALL — Wayne scores late, escapes with 2-1 win over Neumann
The Wayne High softball team is halfway to a state championship, but it wasn’t easy.
Bishop Neumann manufactured a first-inning run and made it stand up until the fifth inning, and Annie Kniesche lined an opposite-field double in the bottom of the seventh that was mishandled in the outfield, allowing Kayla Fleming to come home with the winning run in a 2-1 win Thursday afternoon at the Smith Softball Complex.
Neumann used a single, sacrifice, stolen base and a fielding error to score in the top of the first inning, marking just the second time all year that Wayne had trailed that early in a game.
Wayne had opportunities to score that were denied by double plays by Neumann. In the third, Annie Kniesche grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning, and Neumann turned another one an inning later when Abby Ankeny struck out and Aliah Schulz, pinch-running for Tori Kniesche, was picked off at third.
Finally, in the fifth, Wayne broke through to tie the game. Josie Thompson was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a Maysn Dorey single. Consecutive walks to Fleming and Kniesche brought Thompson home to tie the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Fleming reached on a two-out infield to put the winning run on base. Kniesche went the other way with a 1-0 pitch to right field, and when the right fielder mishandled the ball, Fleming came around third to score the winning run.
Wayne, 33-0, outhit Neumann 6-3. Dorey had two hits, while Annie Kniesche, Tori Kniesche, Ankeny and Sidney Biggerstaff each had hits. Tori Kniesche pitched another complete-game victory, striking out 12 and walking one on 101 pitches.
After rematch wins over Cozad and Neumann, Wayne will face its third tournament game against a previous opponent when they take on Arlington Friday at 11 a.m. The winner advances to Friday’s 4 p.m. championship game.