The 2021 Class A state softball tournament is filled with talent and teams with rich state history. The teams in this field have a combined 27 state softball championships. Their voyage to another begins Wednesday at Smith Softball Complex.
How they got here
Papillion-La Vista, the No. 6 seed this season, has won three of the last four state championships, including the 2019 and 2020 state championship as they went a perfect 72-0 across the past two seasons. The Monarchs (24-10) defeated North Platte in the Class A District 7 final in a rematch of last year’s state championship — a 12-0 result that last three innings.
The Monarch program has won 16 state championships, including ten straight from 1995-2004. PLV this year is led by Emmie Wills, who is hitting .500 with 36 hits and 27 RBI. The Monarchs earned the No. 6 seed and will face the No. 3 seed Lincoln East.
Its counterpart, Papillion-La Vista South found its way back to the state tournament by defeating the Class A favorite Gretna in the A-1 district championship.
Papio South was 14-16 heading into district play, needing a district title to advance its season. The Titans, in search of their first state softball title, defeated No. 1-rated Gretna twice in district play, 8-6 in the winner’s bracket final.
Papio South is led offensively by Baylor Gregory, who is hitting .444 with 36 hits and 15 RBI. The Titans earned the No. 8 seed and will face top-seeded Lincoln Southwest.
The Silverhawks are trying to make it back to the state championship game for the first time since winning it in 2018. They were knocked out last year by 2020 runner-up North Platte.
LSW comes into the state tournament with a record of 39-6. This is the Silverhawks ninth consecutive appearance at state. They are looking for their fourth state championship and their first since 2018. LSW is led by Ashley Smetter, who leads the team with a .487 batting average. She has 58 hits, eight home runs and 30 RBI. The Silverhawks defeated Lincoln Pius X 11-10 to advance to the state tournament.
The Norfolk Panthers, seeded seventh, are back at the state tournament for the first time since 2006. This is the program’s fourth overall appearance at state.
Norfolk made it back-to-back years in 2005-06. Before that, the last time it made the tourney was 1995. The Panthers defeated Omaha Marian, battling back to win 4-3 in an elimination game and then winning 13-2 to secure a spot at state.
Leading the Panthers is Emerson Waldow, a sophomore with a .440 average who has driven in a team-best 55 runs. Norfolk comes into state with a 31-15 record and will face the No. 2 seed Gretna.
Following their upset in districts, the Dragons snagged the lone wildcard spot in the Class A field. Gretna’s program has one state championship, that came in Class B in 2015 when it defeated Elkhorn South. Ensley Frame’s .460 average headlines the Gretna offense, totaling 46 hits and 15 RBI to this point. Gretna comes into state with a 28-7 record.
Lincoln East made its way back to the state tournament for the second consecutive year and seventh time overall. The Spartans, who have not won a softball championship, defeated Fremont 7-5 in districts to advance.
East (34-8) has one runner-up finish, in 2006 where it lost to Papillion-La Vista during the Monarchs’ stretch of titles. Lincoln East is led by Morgan Adams, hitting .523 (58-111) with 57 RBI.
Millard North (25-9) is back in the state tournament for the first time since 2017. The Mustangs defeated Elkhorn South in the A-6 district final. Millard North is looking for its second state championship — the first came in 1993 where they defeated Omaha Gross Catholic. The Mustangs were runner-up in 1998 and 2003. Millard North is led by Lynn Davis, who has a .476 average with 39 hits and 22 RBI. The Mustangs earned the No. 5 seed and will face the No. 4 seed Millard South.
Its counterpart Millard South is back at the state tournament for the first time since 2019 where it went 0-2. The Patriots (25-11) are seeking a seventh state championship and first since 2016.
Millard South won its A-5 district after falling to the elimination game. Eventually the Patriots battled to win three straight games. Amari Laing paces the Patriot offense with her .459 BA, 34 hits and 34 RBI.
Class A bracket
Game 1 — No. 1 Lincoln Southwest vs. No. 8 Papio South, 9 a.m.
Game 2 — No. 4 Millard South vs. No. 5 Millard North, 9 a.m.
Game 3 — No. 3 Lincoln East vs. No. 6 Papio, 9 a.m.
Game 4 — No. 2 Gretna vs. No. 7 Norfolk, 9 a.m.
Game 5 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6 — Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 4:30 p.m.
Game 7 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 9 a.m.
Game 8 — Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 9 a.m.
Game 9 — Loser Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7, 11:30 a.m.
Game 10 — Loser Game 5 vs.s Winner Game 8, 11:30 a.m.
Game 11 — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4:30 p.m.
Game 12 — Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 4:30 p.m.
Game 13 — Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11, 11:30 a.m.
Game 14 — Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13, 2 p.m.
Game 15 — Winner Game 14 vs. Loser Game 14 (if necessary)