Saturday night magic in McCook: Bison to state
McCOOK, Neb. — The McCook Bison started a party primed to go right into Sunday School.
Players, students, coaches and parents all celebrated after 11 p.m on the Jaycees Complex diamond while others had to be thinking:
Was there ever any doubt?
Once the ultimate 9 p.m. title game began, North Platte’s Bulldogs might as well been playing in Buenes Aires time zone (two hours later).
Midnight was about to strike on their state tournament hopes. McCook never trailed throughout a 13-6 state tourney-clinching victory.
“Once they started hitting,” coach Jason Cochran said about his awesome McCook batting order. “Everyone started hitting.”
The Bison unleashed 17 hits upon a North Platte pitcher who baffled and blanked them for 12 straight innings to start Saturday.
Well, maybe not baffled.
“We were hitting the ball hard early in the day,” Cochran said referring to North Platte’s 4-0 early win. “We were just hitting right at them.”
District champion McCook (21-13 record) had to play through a feisty Alliance team just for another shot at North Platte.
The Bison were trailing those Bulldogs, 1-0, until senior Jadie Stevens’ fourth-inning RBI-double.
Senior Haiden Loop’s infield hit put McCook ahead 2-1 — and the “floodgates” soon opened on a Saturday that began around 8 a.m. with McCook city crews and dads working to get those diamonds ready after Friday’s rain.
“A shout out to all those who helped work on the fields,” Cochran proclaimed.
McCook soon showered the field with hits as senior Emily Jacobs drove home three runs in the 7-2 comeback win over Alliance.
Jacobs’ second home run of the tourney and 11th this season ended Alliance’s title hopes.
Now the most difficult work would begin.
The Bison needed two wins over No. 1 nemesis North Platte — but they hadn’t even scored one run against N.P. ace Taylar Coleman.
They were trailing 2-0 and only two outs from elimination.
McCook would prove two Colemans — Shayne and little sis Candace — are really better than one.
It was senior Shayne Coleman who would drive home the winner of an amazing 6-5 Bison winner.
First, Coleman hustled to an infield hit which followed Loop’s leadoff double. The Bison were about to end that 12-inning scoreless drought vs. that other Coleman’s pitching.
Senior Cassiddy Beeby singled home one, then amazing Jacobs doubled into two more for a 3-2 Bison lead.
Doucet’s RBI-hit and sophomore Brolin Morgan hustling home on an errant pitch put McCook ahead 5-2.
It still wasn’t enough against those always tough North Platte Bulldogs.
They promptly rallied for a 5-5 tie and probably lead if second baseman Loop doesn’t catch an inning-ending line drive.
“We were batting last, and I knew we could finish it,” Cochran said.
The coach was right on target again.
Sophomore Kori Uerling stepped up and crushed a double over the nearest North Platte outfielder.
After the speedy Loop reached safely again, Shayne Coleman’s strong hit capped a second Bison “survival” game win.
North Platte’s remaining gas would be used mainly for the not-so-happy drive home.
The Bulldogs battled like a champion-caliber team, but they simply could not match McCook’s final deluge of run-scoring hits.
Jacobs — who now has 56 RBIs in 34 games — singled both Coleman and Beeby home for a 2-0 lead four batters into the finale.
Sophomore Candace Coleman’s two-RBI hit sent Jacobs and courtesy runner Madison Stewart dashing in to make it 4-0.
North Platte (22-18 final record) rallied within 4-3. The comeback lasted about as long as Nebraska drew even with Wisconsin in Lincoln Saturday evening.
Stevens’ single started another three-run Bison assault. Uerling used patience rather than power as she drew a 3-2, bases-loaded walk that sent in McCook’s sixth run.
Another Loop infield hit forced a 7-3 Bison advantage.
Again, the defending B-6 champion Bulldogs nipped that deficit down to 7-5.
That’s close enough. Loop ignited the Bison one more time when she raced around to an RBI-triple and happy greeting from third-base coach Cochran.
Beeby blasted an opposite-field double into right field, and McCook just kept pouring out hits until marathon pitcher Doucet stepped to the plate.
BOOM! Her third home run this season put the punctuation on McCook’s first Class B state softball trip since 2014.
Of course, three years can’t really cover how much work put into achieving this No. 1 goal.
“Thousands and thousands of buckets,” Cochran said about all the buckets of practice softballs as well as what Bison coaches sit on during games. “It really is a year-long (process).”
The Bison now get ready to play Wednesday afternoon against a state opponent not determined at today’s press time.