Their jerseys say “Verdigre”, so how does this pertain to Niobrara?
Even before the two town schools co-opted their sports programs in 2010, Niobrara girls have traveled to Verdigre to partake in its successful softball program ran by Dana Konopasek and Debbie Ives.
Konopasek and Ives began Verdigre’s softball program about 30 years ago, and because this was not a school affiliated sport, they chose not to use the school’s mascot.
They chose yellow for the jersey color because at that time, Verdigre’s school team colors were yellow and blue, but instead of blue they decide to change it up and go with black. With team colors of yellow and black the most logical mascot was a bee or better yet, a “Stinger”.
In the late 2000s, Niobrara girls started venturing over to Verdigre as Niobrara did not have a softball program. There have been an estimated 25 to 30 players from Niobrara to date that have played for the Stingers in the last 10 years. This year’s state qualifying 12U and 14U teams had a total of eight Niobrara students on its roster and the numbers rise when throw in the T-ball and 10U teams.
When Niobrara and Verdigre became the “Cougars,” the softball team remained the “Stingers,” as the softball program continued to be unaffiliated with the schools. But, it also generates players from other towns such as Creighton, Plainview and even Arizona.
They may be the “Verdigre Stingers” but they are still your Niobrara home town girls playing their hearts out for a team and sport they love.
Verdigre Stinger softball had a busy weekend in Hastings for the 2018 Class D State Tournament with both the 12U and 14U teams qualifying for state. In all, 11 games were played by the two teams over the course of three days which resulted in a championship title and a top-eight finish.
The 14U team also began its run at a state championship on Friday afternoon. The team took the field at 2:30 p.m. where they faced Central City. The girls jumped out to a quick lead, which ended the game by the 10-run rule. Verdigre took the win at 14-1.
With a victory, the girls Wausa at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday.
“We had a nervous first inning, but then settled down and scored in each inning,” Konopasek said.
Wausa’s only score came in the first inning. Verdigre pitcher, Chaney Konopasek, put up seven strikeouts to help the team to a 10-1 win.
Verdigre returned to the field on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. to face the Hastings Bombers Blue. Both teams struggled to get hits although Verdigre managed to get two runs in the first and a final run in the third to bump off a 3-1 victory.
At 11:30 a.m., Verdigre met the Fall City Travelers 13 team in the semi-finals match. In a back-and-forth game, Fall City had the lead by one run heading into the final inning. Verdigre managed to score two runs to move on to the championships after an 8-7 win.
With Fall City taking its first loss, Verdgire would need to wait for the winner to be determined.
Falls City won its next game and move into the championship game as well. In an inning-by-inning battle, Verdigre found itself down by two heading into its last at-bat.
“We had to make something happen or we would be playing in another game,” Konopasek said.
In an effort to get the team fired up, an already exhausted Chaney Konopasek said, “We have to hit the ball, I can’t pitch another game.” Verdigre tied up the game at 4-4. Serina Babcock connected for a base hit with one out. The next batter was thrown out at first which allowed Babcock to advance to third. Allie Kotrous came to bat. With two outs and the winning runner sitting on third base, she had two strikes. She connected a pitch to send it down first base foul line for the game-winning RBI. Verdigre took the Class D State Championship, while going undefeated 5-0.
“We just couldn’t believe what had just happened,” Konopasek said.
The win was Dana Konopasek’s first state championship in 29 years of coaching.
The 12U kicked off Friday at 2 p.m. where it met the NW Illusion 12 Gold team. After a slow start, the team fought back but fell short to take an opening loss of 6-8.
The loss moved the team to the loser’s bracket where they faced the Midplains Prowlers on Saturday at 8 a.m. Verdigre took the win at 9-6 to advance.
Verdigre met Elkhorn Edge 12 at 12:30 p.m. the same day, which resulted in a win with a score of 9-5. At 6:30, the team played Cross County which they also beat. With bats on fire and defense holding strong, Verdigre won 9-1.
The girls returned to the field at 8 p.m. on Saturday to take on the Grand Island Elite team. Verdigre took an early lead before Grand Island responded back.
“We knew we needed a little cushion because they had last bat,” Verdigre coach Dana Konopasek said.
The girls extended thier lead to take the win at 15-3.
The Saturday evening win pushed the team into the final day of competition. At 9:30 a.m., the Verdigre 12Us took on the Fremont Force Black team. The team struggled to get going due to a slow start batting and a few defensive errors. Verdigre lost to Fremont, with a 13-5 final. The loss knocked the team from the tournament.
“The girls showed up for the challenge and made everyone proud of how they played,” Konopasek said.
“They played four games on Saturday in the heat and kept on going. To finish in the top eight at state is a very big accomplishment,” Konopasek applauded. “Each team member did their part somewhere in the tournament. They might have pitched, caught, stole a base, made a catch, hit the ball or scored the run to help their team be successful.”
Konopasek is thankful for the help of JJ Parks and Kristi Rohrer in coaching the 12U and 14U teams.
“Coach Debbie and I couldn’t have been more proud of the whole Stinger community,” Konopasek said.
The girls and their families were welcomed into Verdigre by the Rescue Unit, fire trucks and supporters on the street and at the park. “This was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend,” Konopasek said.
The Verdigre Stingers played hard against Creighton on Monday, July 2. After winning the first game, the second game become a battle as Verdigre came from behind to win the second game as well.
On June 12, the Verdigre Stinger Softball 16’s team played a home game against Laurel. In the first game of the night the Stingers struggled hitting the ball in the first two innings. In the third inning, both teams started to hit and score runs.
By the end of the third inning, the score was in favor of Laurel, 9-6. Verdigre had the final bat, but couldn’t move ahead. Pitching for the Stingers was Abby Frank with Sierra Nielsen as the catcher.
In the second game, the Stingers were able to hit the ball in the right places and had solid base running. Verdigre held strong with the defense and held Laurel to only three runs while Verdigre had 10. Pitching for the Stingers was Chaney Konopasek with Nielsen catching in her second game of the night.
The entry list has been set for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, to be held in Hastings June 14-16 at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
Nearly 150 high school rodeo athletes will compete in twelve events. The top four competitors in each event at the state level will earn a berth at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 15-21, where national champions will be crowned in each event.
Verdigre’s Emily Knust will compete in two events at state finals, the breakaway roping and the goat tying. She enters finals in first place in the breakaway.
The twelve events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing, boys cutting, girls cutting, and bull riding.
The Finals, the culmination of 28 regular season rodeos, will be held at 10 am and 6 pm on June 14-15, with the short round on June 16 at 1 pm. After Thursday and Friday’s performances, the top ten contestants in each event will advance to the short round on June 16. The cutting will be held at 7:30 am on June 14-15, with the short round at 8 am on June 16. The 2018-2019 Miss Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen will be crowned prior to the performance on June 16. For more information, visit www.AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or call 402.462.3247. For information on the Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association, visit www.hsrodeo-nebraska.com.
Verdigre celebrated its 50th anniversary Kolach Days this year which included Sundays parade. Participants from all over Knox County came to support and partake in the festivities.
Feel free to share the photo album, are you in it?
For over 20 years, the Alpine Village has played host to the Kolach Days kiddie parade and this year was no different.
The parade is part of the annual Kolach Days celebration this is being held from June 7-10.
This year's Kolach Days Parade will be broadcast on TV. You can see it on Channel 12--Great Plains Cable or Dish 35.
The Kilted Man will visit from Colorado and give 6 celtic music performances.
Be sure to pick up root beer floats and check out the sidewalk book sale where the donations will support Libraries Rock: Summer Reading Program 2018.
Check out the full list of events below.
Doane University has announced that 285 students have been named to the Dean's List for the Spring 2018 semester.
Students must achieve a minimum 3.7 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and hold 12 graded hours to qualify for this academic distinction.
Alex Hollman of Verdigre appeared on Doane University's 2018 Spring Dean's List.
Verdigre Community Chorus presents "Tribute to Legends" on Thursday, June 7 and Friday, June 8 at 7 pm each evening at the handicapped accessible air conditioned school in Verdigre.
This show will feature musical legends and is sure to keep everyone entertained till the end. General admission tickets are available at the door $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12.
To purchase a reserved seat for $12 contact Wilma Vakoc 402-358-0724. Verdigre Community Chorus is directed by Laurel Johnson and Nancy Pavelka is accompanist.