The North Platte High softball team defeated Lincoln Southwest, 7-6, on Friday to make the state championship game.
But in the state final, they were shutout, 12-0, by the top team in the nation, Papillion-LaVista, to close out the state tournament in Hastings.
The Lady Bulldogs finish a runner-up, compiling a season record of 32-11.
The game against Southwest (35-9) was a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle. Neither team scored until the third inning, when the Silverhawks put three runs across the plate. But NPHS answered back in the bottom half with two runs to stay within striking distance.
After Bulldog pitcher Tatum Montelongo threw a scoreless fourth inning, North Platte scored four runs in the bottom half to go up, 6-3.
Southwest scored two in the sixth to get within one run. But NPHS got an all-important insurance run in the bottom half of the inning.
The Silverhawks got a run in the seventh but Montelongo and the Lady Dawgs held on to make the finals.
Montelongo, the workhorse on the mound, had seven strikeouts in the win and also knocked in two runs. Abby Orr batted in three runs the lead North Platte’s offense.
But in the final, the Bulldogs ran into a buzzsaw in Papillion-LaVista.
The Monarchs began by scoring three runs in the first inning. Then four in the second and five in the third to put the run rule into effect.
Papillion-LaVista, ranked No. 1 nationally by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, won all 36 games in their season to claim the state championship.
Monarch pitcher Jordyn Bahl, who threw a perfect game against NPHS on Thursday, struck out eight batters in the final. But unlike Thursday, the Bulldogs were able to get a hit against the future Oklahoma Sooner.
This year’s North Platte team record matched the best finish in school history. The 1997 team also made it to the state final, where they lost to Papillion-LaVista and another historically dominant pitcher in Peaches James. James went on to play for the University of Nebraska, where she ranks highly in several team categories for the Huskers.
The 2020 Bulldogs will lose seven seniors to graduation — Abby Orr, Ellie Hanson, Aspen Nelson, Shelby Yoshida, Josie Freeze, Tahjzha Botts and Michaela Wright. They should bring back their pitcher, Montelongo, and shortstop Sydney Barner, among others, to help them contend for another state tournament berth.