North Bend Eagle

 

 

Everyone knows that...

Chicks dig the long ball

'07 Tigers his home runs at record pace

by Nathan Arneal
published 10/17/07

When softball coach Dan Nelson was giving a preview of his team before the 2007 season, he said he liked the hitting potential of his squad, even though the power might be down a bit from the previous season.

home run hitters
NBC-SS seniors Lindsey Hull, Megan Jensen and Annie Dostal combined to hit a state record 12 home runs this season. Jensen also tied the single-season individual state record with nine homers.

“I guess the girls proved me wrong,” Nelson said a month and a half later.

Not only did the ‘07 Tigers display more power than previous NBC-SS teams, they proved to be the most powerful team in Nebraska Class C history. The Tigers’ 12 home runs this season eclipsed the previous state record of 10 set by Chadron in 2003.

Senior Megan Jensen led the bomb squad with nine home runs, tying the Class C record set by Chadron’s Cassie Humphrey in 2003. Lindsey Hull added two homers to the total and Annie Dostal hit one round tripper.

Looking back, Nelson said he shouldn’t have been surprised by his teams tendency to go deep.

“Coaching these girls back when they were 14-and-unders, you could always see the power ability,” Nelson said. “Annie Dostal has an upswing and can hit the ball a long ways. Megan’s always been able to tag it. Lindsey has a nice solid swing, and then you have Jamie Spath. Any of those four girls can take it out. It’s just a matter of time.”

Jensen’s hit parade got off to a quick start when she hit two pitches over the fence against Neumann in the fourth game of the year. The feat added her name to a list of 20 other girls who share the all-class state record of two home runs in a single game. Jensen said there is nothing like the feel of a home run leaving the bat.

“It fells like you barely hit it,” Jensen said, “and then it just soars.”
Hull said she wasn’t expecting a home run when she left that batters’ box after her big swings. Both of her home runs were inside the park, and she said she was actually surprised when she made it all the way around the bases.

“I was just trying to run as fast as I could,” Hull said. “On the last (homer) Mr. Nelson said I was up easy, but on the first one I was a little worried.”
Hull also set a school record with a 12-game hitting streak to open the season, a span which saw the senior hit .513. She ened the season with a school-record .401 batting average. Nelson said moving Hull from the second spot in the batting order to the third may have helped Jensen hitting in the four spot. With Hull usually on base and with Dostal and Spath batting after Jensen, teams were reluctant to pitch around her.
Jensen, who didn’t have any career home runs until this season, more than quadrupled the previous school record of two home runs in a season set by Jackie Dirkschneider in ‘06. Jensen wasn’t ready to take all the credit for herself, though.

“I thought it was just my bat,” she said. “I don’t know what the difference is, but I know it’s a better bat than normal.”

Dostal and Hull said their home runs were even more special because of the timing. Hull’s first home run was a three-run shot that put NBC-SS into a tie with eventual state champion Tekamah-Herman. One inning later, Dostal hit a home run to give NBC-SS the lead for good.

Nelson said the comeback win over Tekamah was one of the highlights of the season. After surrendering five runs in the first inning, NBC-SS came back to win 10-7.

“I think that’s a testament to these girls and their stick-to-itiveness and just the way they get after stuff and don’t quit,” Nelson said.

Nelson pointed to the district game against West Point CC as his favorite moment of the year. NBC-SS turned three double plays in the game and manufactured two runs in a shutout of the Bluejays.

“I thoroughly loved the way they played against West Point CC in districts,” Nelson said. “If you would have seen us in that game and someone told you that we averaged about four errors a game before that, you would have thought they were lying. That was probably the best ball they played.”

Despite the big wins and state records, Nelson said he can’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment with a 14-15 record in a year that began with such promise, including a No. 5 preseason state ranking by the Omaha World-Herald.

“There are some losses in there that (the girls) know we shouldn’t have lost,” Nelson said. “I could go down the line and pick out a handful of games, and who knows what would have happened if we win those games? I think the girls know that we left probably four, if not half a dozen, games out on the field that we should have had.”

Nelson said this year’s seniors will leave some big shoes to fill. Early in the season all six infield spots were manned by seniors. Jensen pitched with Dostal catching, while Spath, Tasha Raymond, Amber Sellentin and Hull made up the defensive infield. Jess Kreikemeier, who played third base after Spath was moved to the outfield, was the only junior on the roster this season.

“Obviously we’re going to have a lot of underclassmen filling those roles (left vacant by the seniors,)” Nelson said of his 2008 team. “We have a lot of work ahead.”

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