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Papillion-La Vista softball rides 65-game win streak into postseason
The 29-0 Papillion-La Vista Monarchs have outscored opponents 242-11 this season. (Courtesy: @papiosoftball/Twitter)

Papillion-La Vista softball rides 65-game win streak into postseason

PAPILLION, Neb. (BVM)  — Winning 65 consecutive high school softball games isn’t easy. The Papillion-La Vista Monarchs just make it look that way because they seem to be in a class all of their own.

“You’ve got to make sure you stay on top of your game,” Papillion-La Vista head coach Todd Petersen said. “You can’t listen to what everybody else says even when other coaches in private say nobody has a chance against you. I hope that’s true, but you have to go in with the mentality that every game is a challenge and you have to play it that way.”

But the challenges have been few and far between. It’s been two years since the defending NSAA Class A state champs lost a game. Papio’s last loss came in the 2018 state final against Lincoln Southwest, which ended a 49-game winning streak. That was the longest winning streak in state history at the time, but the Monarchs (29-0) have shattered that mark this season and they head into the postseason as a heavy favorite to claim another state championship.

And if their potential playoff opponents are hoping the Monarchs feel pressured by their win streak or their status as a clear-cut favorite, they’ll be disappointed.

“We don’t really think about it,” senior second baseman Mia Jarecki said. “We play one game at a time. We don’t put pressure on ourselves. We really just focus on playing our best and just going out there and having fun.”

Papio has plenty of that. It would be hard not to have fun with the best lineup in the state and arguably the best all-around player in the country. The Monarchs have 10 seniors, eight of which are going on to play Division I or Division II softball in college. Leading that group is Oklahoma University commit Jordyn Bahl, the reigning Gatorade Nebraska Softball Player of the Year who’s ranked as the No. 1 recruit among the Class of 2021 by Softball American and Extra Innings Softball. 

As a junior, Bahl posted staggering numbers in the pitcher’s circle and at the plate. She went 27-0 with a 0.15 ERA and 300 strikeouts in 139 innings pitched while also batting .581 with 59 RBIs and tying the Class A state record by slugging 22 home runs. But she’s somehow managing to have an even better senior season. She’s broken the school record for RBIs in a career and with 20 home runs heading into the postseason, which begins Wednesday with district play, she has a good chance to break the record she tied last year. As a pitcher, she’s allowed only two runs in 119 innings (0.12 ERA) and struck out 275 while breaking the school record for career wins and the state record for consecutive victories in the process.

“I feel like she’s even more dominating than last year,” Petersen said.

Bahl isn’t the only one leaving her mark on the Papio program, however. As the table setter for the Monarchs’ loaded lineup, Jarecki broke the school record for runs scored in a career earlier this season. 

“It’s really fun to have that opportunity to lead off and get the rally going,” said Jarecki, who’s batting .487 with 10 home runs and a team-best 16 stolen bases. “I just know that there’s a very high chance I’ll score just because everyone in my lineup will be able to hit.”

Jarecki will attend South Dakota State with senior catcher Brooke Dumont who, like Bahl and Jarecki, has been starting on varsity for the Monarchs since her freshman season. Dumont (6 HR) is second on the team in RBIs (28) and tied for second in hits (38) with Jarecki. Senior Iowa commit Maggie Vasa (7 HR) isn’t far behind with her 34 hits and she’s also a big contributor on the basepaths with 12 steals. Washburn University commit Kaylee Wagner (32 hits, 27 RBIs) has also swiped 12 bags and fellow senior Kate Voisin (29 hits, 4 HR, 23 RBIs) has played a big role at the plate for Papio as well.

“You name them and then Jordyn and that’s six girls hitting over .400 for the season,” Petersen said. “We have quite an offense and we have a very fast team so we can run and kind of do everything.”

Which is why the Monarchs — who have outscored opponents 242-11 — are so tough to beat. Even if a team is fortunate enough to score against Bahl, a feat that is nothing if not rare, the odds of holding down the Papio bats are slim at best. The Monarchs also have a No. 2 pitcher who has proven capable of shutting down opponents. Senior Bailee Lampman, who will go on to pitch for the University of Sioux Falls next year, has a 0.90 ERA in 11 appearances this season.

“Bailee is a great kid and a great leader,” Petersen said. “She’s legit. I really believe that if she was our pitcher with the team we have, I still think we’d be the favorite to win it.” 

As promising as the postseason outlook appears to be for the Monarchs, they don’t need to dig too far back in their memories for a reminder that nothing is a given at the state tournament, which begins Oct. 14. They only need to think back to Oct. 13, 2018, when their last streak came to an end.

“We know that can happen,” Jarecki said. “It’s not certain that we’re going to win every single game. We use it as motivation to work even harder to just keep working toward our goal and to not let up and let any team come close.”

“The good thing about this team is they’ve been through two years ago and last year and they’ve seen what can happen,” Petersen said. “It’s not all the same kids, but the leaders of the team all were a part of that so it’s always a good reminder for them in case they need it.”

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