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05/24/2015 - From The Press Box: Pius X's Baseball Run Caps Successful Year in Lincoln Athletics
 Another school year is in the books.

From an athletic standpoint, it was a year that Lincoln schools shined in many sports, with a few winning state titles.

This past Thursday, Pius X captured their third Class B state baseball title in four years.  It also marked back to back championships for Coach Troy Charf's team.  

The Thunderbolts program, arguably, may be at the forefront of other programs in Lincoln and across Nebraska.  But let us not forget of other city teams this year that stood out on the diamond.

Lincoln Southwest deserves recognition, too.   One win away from playing for a state title, the Silver Hawks come up short in the playoff game of the Class A championship round in a loss to Millard South.  Southwest had a 9-0 lead through two innings before the Patriots rallied for 19 unanswered runs to win 19-9 in six innings.

But Millard South fell victim to Omaha Westside, who won their third-straight Class A title, by the final of 1-0 in a no-hitter thrown by Nebraska recruit Matt Waldron.

Southwest has nothing to hang their head about.  A solid team, with good chemistry, the Silver Hawks have a shot to redeem themselves this summer during Legion ball. Next spring, Texas A&M recruit Logan Foster returns for his senior year and that could spearhead another big run.

I tip my hat to Southeast, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the top of the 7th in their district championship game at Papillion-LaVista to beat the Monarchs 6-5 in 10 innings to punch a ticket to state.  While it wasn't the way they wanted to finish the season, the back to back losses early in the tournament is still a big deal for a program that hadn't been to state since 2011.

Southeast, by the way, was the last Lincoln team to win the Class A baseball title in 1977.  Among those on that team were Doug Kaltenberger, now the head coach at Southwest.

Expectations were high for Northeast and East, but somehow things didn't go their way.  In fact, at one point, the 11 losses the Rockets had, 10 of which were to ranked teams and seven of them were by one run.  Northeast does have some experience coming back, and look to build off of the foundation from this year for 2016.

East, under first year coach Scott Standish, didn't show the top-notch team chemistry like they did in 2010 and 2012, when they went to state.  Still, there's some improvement, but it looks to be bright for the next three to four years with upcoming talent.

Hey, how about those Southwest girls?  The Silver Hawks captured another Class A State Track and Field title on Saturday at Burke Stadium in Omaha.  Lincoln East's Shelby Brown won the gold medal in the shot put and discus. 

Pius X girls basketball had a great run to the Class B championship in March.  Maddie Simon's high school career ends on a high note on the same court she plans to play on the next four years at Nebraska.  

Husker Coach Connie Yori will be getting a great guard/forward, in addition to a great post player from Fremont, by way of Lincoln Southeast, Jessica Shepard.  To lose her to a season ending knee injury in late December changed the whole landscape in Class A.

Northeast had another great run in Class A, suffering only two losses (to Omaha Benson in February and state champ Omaha Westside in the semifinals).  The Rockets will be going through some growing pains next year, but look to add younger talent for immediate experience at the varsity level.

Speaking of Northeast, the Rocket boys had the best year on the basketball court in about a decade.  It was their first 20-win season since 2005, when Northeast fell to eventual state champ Bellevue West in the semifinals of the Class A state tourney.  

Ryan Garver, in my opinion, was the best defender I had seen on the court this season.  His Northeast teammates counted on him for some big plays in transition and clutch shots down the stretch.  Experienced gained by the five sophomores on the team will be valuable for the Rockets next season.

I will say this until I'm blue in the face.  Lincoln High should have been with Northeast at the state tourney this year.  I'm sure the fact that South Sioux City making it to state with a heavily, Class B-laden schedule didn't sit well with Links fans.  Disagree with me on this point, if you like, but the Cardinals belonged in the Class B tournament after their early exit to Omaha South.

South Sioux City is one of those schools that's borderline Class A and Class B due to enrollment figures tabulated by the NSAA.  Regardless, Lincoln High certainly belonged in the state tournament, but it didn't help matters for them to lose to an under .500 team in Southeast in the district semifinal.  The Links were the Heartland Athletic Conference and city champions with a 19-5 record.

In swimming, Southwest boys and girls finished as runner-ups at the state meet.  The Silver Hawk girls were edged by Omaha Marian with a team score of 357 to 356.5 in the championship.  Creighton Prep had a much wider margin to the team championship, with a team score of 475 to Southwest's 271.

Football showed promise, but the four Lincoln area teams that qualified were eliminated in the opening round. 

In all, not a bad year for sports in the city.

To all of the 2015 graduates, thank you for your contributions on the field/court and classroom.  Best of luck in your future endeavors!

For this column, it will return the week before the first football games will kick off in late August.  Thanks to you for reading this during the school year!  Thanks to Rotella's Italian Bakery for being the sponsor.

Have a great summer and we'll talk to you during Legion Baseball coverage!
Rotellas Italian Bakery

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