The Lady Jeffs Softball team made school history by earning the first State championship title since the men’s cross country team in 1999. The Jeffs played a total of five games ending the state tournament with a 4-1 record. They faced Malcolm, Cozad and Guardian Angels Central Catholic (GACC) three times.
In the final game against GACC, the Lady Jeffs came back from being down 0-4 in the third inning to winning with a final score of 6-5. Senior Jaelle Johnson described the atmosphere as “nerve-wracking.”
“It was a lot of pressure,” Johnson said. “I knew that if we could just play relaxed, we’d win the game. We won because we were competitive, and we wanted it the most. The best part of the whole tournament was watching the final ball go up and knowing that we had just earned a state championship title.”
Head Coach Taylor Biehl also described the atmosphere as “intense.” She said that the reality of it all hasn’t hit her yet. Biehl contributes the championship title to strong hitting capabilities and a unique team chemistry.
“I don’t care what your ability levels are,” Biehl said. “Team chemistry is the most important thing. The thing I will miss most about this team is their ability to stay in the moment, not overthink and have fun. They’re an easy team to coach because they truly love the game.”
The softball team returned to town from Hastings with an emergency vehicle escort and cheering community members lining the streets. On Sunday night, they were on 1011 News. They got to walk the school hallways on Monday morning with their medals and have their classmates congratulate them on their success.
“It feels unreal that we are State champions,” senior Claire Shumard said. “I never thought that it was going to happen for our team, so it’s just unbelievable. Being from a small town, the recognition is crazy because everyone knows that we are State champions, so I get an unbelievable amount of support from everyone in the community.”
The 2019 Lady Jeffs Softball Team poses for a team picture with their Class C State Championship medals and trophy. “It feel awesome to be State champions,” Coach Biehl said. “I don’t think the entirety of it has hit me yet.” Photo by T. Gustafson
Johnson gets interviewed about her state tournament experience after the championship game. Johnson said the thing she’ll miss most about high school softball is playing for Coach Biehl. Photo by T. Gustafson
Shumard receives both a medal and a hug from her coach. “I’ll miss the bond I have with the team and the feeling of hitting a dinger the most,” Shumard said. Photo by T. Gustafson