Lincoln East Varsity Softball reaches goal of state: Records and Runners up

The Lincoln East Varsity Softball team collected second place at the state tournament in Hastings, Nebraska on October 15th, 2021. Top (L-R) Sydney McReynolds, Campbell Petrick, Morgan Adams, Abby Schaaf, Kooper Barnes, Rhiannon Martin, Jordan Bussey, Kyndal Colón, Ruby Witherspoon, Hannah Warnke Bottom (L-R) Madison Adams, Gabby Pace, Berkley Hattan, Amelia Kehn, Abby Pinkelman, Mya Zavala, Emilee Haggadone, and Sydney Walz

The Lincoln East Varsity Softball team had a stellar ‘21-’22 season, exemplified by its success at the state tournament in Hastings, Nebraska that took place October 13-15th, 2021. Despite losing their first game of the tournament, the Spartans battled back, winning four games in the loser’s bracket to get to the championship on Friday. Several records were set throughout the tournament, two of those records were set by East, both involving home runs. The Spartans left it all out on the field, falling short to Lincoln Southwest in the championship game.
East took on Papillion-La Vista (Papio), the defending state champion in the first round on Wednesday, October 13th. Despite a strong start by East, Papio defeated the Spartans in dominating fashion, 14-4. To make it to “championship Friday,” East needed to win three games on Thursday. After beating Norfolk and Millard North, it was time for the Papio rematch.
Wasting no time, Papio started strong with a two-run home run. The Spartans returned the favor when Mya Zavala homered in the second inning. In the fifth inning, Kyndal Colón blasted a home run to cut the deficit in half. After an overall outstanding team effort, with timely crucial moments, Lincoln East had beaten Papillion La-Vista for the first time in program history.
Head Coach Lance Kingery mentioned how huge of a team win it was, and how proud he was of that accomplishment.
“That was 30 years coming. We’ve never beat them ever,” Kingery said. “That’s what felt so good about it, it was so long in the coming. To watch these guys celebrate is what feels good.”
Senior Sydney McReynolds, who had a walk-off home run in districts, came up big again in the 6th inning with a three run bomb.
“I was actually thinking of my other home run, and thought, ‘this would be a great time to do it again,’” McReynolds said. “It felt really good [to do this for my team].”
Rolling with momentum, the Spartans worked their way through two seeded Gretna, beating them 10-1. East now faced Lincoln Southwest in the Championship.
Senior Morgan Adams has special talent. Leading off the batting order for East, she rarely got pitched to all tournament, collecting multiple intentional walks. But in her first at bat against Southwest, Adams launched a ball well over the right field fence. In doing so, Adams set the Class A record for single-season home runs with her 23rd home run of the season.
“I hit it and I was just so proud of myself,” Adams said. “I’ve worked really really hard to get to where I am today, and having the record just kind of proves that all of the hard work I put in meant something.”
The pitching staff for East did a commendable job throughout the tournament as well. Junior pitcher Jordan Bussey was noticeably lights out. The junior threw 504 pitches over the three day tournament, striking out 44 with an appearance in every single game. Senior Campbell Petrick also recorded her 400th career strikeout during the tournament.
Another feat for the Spartans was a collective team record for the most home runs in a season. The Spartans set the mark at 84 home runs, smashing the previous record of 73.
At the beginning of the season, East had the goal of making it to state. Their success during the season, with hard work and determination, set the stage for the Spartan’s success at state. Although the season didn’t end in a win, this team and their accomplishments will endure.
“Goals are goals, but reality is putting in the work every day,” Kingery said. “They’ll put their name in the history of East High softball forever.”