- From The Press Box: Grand Island In The Pack To Greatness On The Diamond
Who's that team wearing purple and gold that suddenly is back on the Class A baseball scene?
Yep, you guessed it.
Grand Island, all of a sudden, is among the teams in the race for a state tournament spot and a chance to return to Lincoln to play for a state championship later this spring.
The Islanders on Friday moved to 10-2 on the season with a 10-0 win over Lincoln North Star to capture the Heartland Athletic Conference baseball championship. Not since 2008 have we seen Grand Island become a force on the high school baseball scene.
Flashback to 2007, the Islanders were heavy favorites to win the state tournament after winning their opening round game 4-1 over Omaha Burke. But Grand Island stumbled the next game and fell to eventual state champion, Elkhorn, 3-0 before being eliminated by Lincoln Northeast 11-0 in five innings.
Expectations were not as high in 2008, but Grand Island made the state tournament as an eighth-seed and went on a tear through the tournament.
They upset top-seed and tourney favorite Omaha Creighton Prep 8-2, before squeaking past Omaha Westside 2-1 and Millard North 1-0 before heading to the championship series.
Millard West had to work their way back into the championship game by going through the elimination bracket. The Wildcats handed Grand Island their first loss of the tournament 7-5. But the Islanders bounced back and won a 7-6 thriller and captured their first Class A baseball title.
What will happen this year? Who knows? But we know what happened to Grand Island in 2007 and 2008.
Here are the wild card point standings from the NSAA as of Saturday morning:Class A:
- Creighton Preparatory School (12-0), 45.0000
- Omaha Westside (17-1), 44.8889
- Millard West (14-2), 44.1250
- Grand Island (10-2), 42.6667
- Papillion-LaVista South (12-5), 42.3529
- Millard North (9-8), 41.8235
- Columbus (9-2), 41.7273
- Millard South (10-4), 41.2857
- Lincoln Southwest (8-7), 41.2667
- Lincoln North Star (7-6), 41.0000
- Omaha Burke (7-9), 40.8125
- Lincoln Northeast (6-8), 40.7143
- Bellevue West (7-6), 40.5385
- Lincoln East (6-8), 40.5000
- Omaha Central (7-5), 40.1667
- Papillion-LaVista (9-9), 40.0000
- Bellevue East (5-5), 40.0000
- Lincoln Southeast (5-9), 39.2857
- Omaha North (5-6), 39.0909
- Archbishop Bergan (2-7), 37.7778
- Norfolk (2-10), 37.5833
- Omaha Bryan (1-13), 36.7857
- Lincoln High (2-13), 36.6667
- Omaha Northwest (0-9), 35.3333
- Omaha Benson (0-8), 35.2500
- Omaha South (0-10), 35.1000
- Norris (11-1), 44.7500
- Lincoln Pius X (11-3), 43.9286
- Omaha Roncalli Catholic (9-2), 43.6364
- Bennington (9-3), 43.4167
- Seward (8-3), 43.3636
- Concordia/Brownell-Talbot/Omaha Christian Academy (7-2), 43.1111
- Elkhorn (8-8), 42.8750
- Omaha Skutt Catholic (6-4), 42.7000
- Omaha Gross Catholic (7-4), 41.9091
- Elkhorn South (6-4), 41.8000
- Gretna (6-5), 41.7273
- Waverly (6-6), 41.3333
- Crete (5-5), 41.1000
- Platte Valley (6-3), 40.8889
- Guardian Angels Central Catholic/Scribner-Snyder (5-3), 39.8750
- Wahoo/Raymond Central/Lincoln Lutheran (4-8), 39.6667
- Thurston-Cuming County (4-5), 39.4444
- Beatrice (4-4), 39.3750
- Blair (3-8), 39.2727
- Plattsmouth (4-5), 39.0000
- Wayne (6-5), 38.8182
- Ralston (2-9), 38.8182
- Mount Michael Benedictine (4-7), 38.5455
- Fort Calhoun (3-9), 38.5000
- Platteview (3-7), 38.2000
- Nebraska City (1-12), 37.3846
- Arlington (2-7), 37.1111
- Douglas County West (3-6), 36.8889
- South Sioux City (1-6), 36.4286
Lincoln Teams Fighting To Stay Alive
What looked promising for Lincoln baseball teams this spring, seems to be in jeopardy at this point.
Not to panic!
There's still three weeks left in the regular season and a lot can happen in that amount of time before districts start.
North Star finished runner-up in the HAC tourney and are one game above .500 at 7-6. Only Lincoln Southwest is ahead with an 8-7 record, but both teams are within reaching distance of reaching the top eight.
Creighton Prep, Westside, Millard West, Grand Island, Papillion-LaVista South, Millard North, Columbus and Millard South would be in the state tournament, IF the brackets were selected today. All the Lincoln teams would be left out, something that hasn't happened since the state baseball tournament moved to Lincoln in 2006.
Southwest and North Star will see Grand Island May 1 and 3 respectively. Both matchups are doubleheaders and will be played in Lincoln. Making two, 180-mile round trips in two days could provide a little wear and tear on the Islanders.
Northeast and East are within reach of cracking .500. The Rockets posted an upset of previously top-ranked Millard West and Spartans achieved the same feat against Millard South.
For Northeast, injuries have plagued the team and one key component on the mound, Logan Kirk, suffered perhaps the worst injury of them all.
During a game April 12 at Papillion-LaVista South, Kirk was pitching and was struck by a line drive that resulted in three broken facial bones. Kirk underwent surgery this past Monday and his status for the remainder of the season is unknown.
Northeast is competitive. They went 13 innings with Omaha Skutt before the SkyHawks got two runs in the top half of the inning on a single from Justin McGill to hold off the Rockets 2-0.
Hitting wasn't the forte that game, but pitching seemed to be on target. Wyatt Divis, Cole Otto and Ryan Garver, along with Skutt pitchers Jacob Barton and Mickey Bassett combined for 26 strikeouts in the game. I can't recall the last time that happened at the high school level.
LincolnPrepSports.com will provide district baseball and select state baseball tournament coverage this spring. Select, meaning that we will likely stay in Lincoln for the Class A tournament, IF any Lincoln teams make it. Otherwise, we may be at Werner Park in Papillion for the Class B tournament.
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