HASTINGS, Neb. -- Sixth-ranked Gretna closed strong in handing Wayne a 12-3 setback in the first round of the Nebraska State Softball Tournament at Smith Complex on Wednesday.

The Dragons, seeded fifth, snapped a 3-3 tie with a single run in the fifth inning then proceeded to score three in the sixth and five more in the seventh.

All of the damage came off Wayne sophomore Tori Kniesche, who yielded 10 hits while allowing 12 runs -- only seven earned -- while walking seven and striking out 11.

Wayne, seeded fourth, falls into the loser's bracket where it will face top-ranked and defending state champion Elkhorn South at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Incidentally, the top four seeds, including the top three ranked teams, all suffered first-round setbacks in the double-elimination tournament.

Gretna (21-5) jumped out early getting a two-out, two-run home run from sophomore Billie Andrews in the first. It was Andrews 14th homer of the season, tops among the Class B state field.

Wayne (28-4) quickly tied the game in the bottom of the first getting consecutive singles from Kennedy Maly, Tori Kniesche and Annie Kniesche (RBI) along with a Gretna error.

Winning pitcher Alexis Burkhardt (16-4), who allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits while walking one and striking out eight over six innings, had an RBI single in the third to give the Dragons the lead again.

Maly, one of three seniors in the Wayne lineup, hit a solo homer, her seventh, to knot the game at 3-3 after three innings.

The Blue Devils, though, committed three of their five errors in the game in the final two innings which led to five unearned runs.

Maly and Annie Kniesche had two hits each in the setback while Tori Kniesche threw 170 pitches in the game.

Elkhorn South won the regular season meeting with Wayne 10-3.


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