PAPILLION, Neb. — Gretna High School won four games to capture the inaugural NFCA Kaiti Williams Memorial Leadoff Classic hosted by Papillion-LaVista South High School on Sept. 2-3 at the Papillion Landing Softball Complex.
The (16-0) Dragons, who continue to be the No. 1-ranked team in the NFCA Summer/Fall High School Top 25 Coaches Poll, defeated then-No. 7 Millard North, 3-0, in the championship game on Saturday. Gretna had opened the tournament with victories over perennial Nebraska and national powers Skutt Catholic, 5-2, and Papillion-LaVista, 1-0, on Friday, then edged Millard South, 3-2, in Saturday’s semifinal round.
Runner-up Millard North (16-3), meanwhile, rolled past Burke, 9-0, and Bellevue West, 6-0, on the first day, then defeated Elkhorn South, 5-2, to advance to the final. The Mustangs are currently ranked 11th nationally.
Elkhorn South (11-5) defeated Millard South, 2-1, to capture the third-place game and nudge its way into the rankings this week at the No. 25 spot.
Teams played two pool-play contests each on the first day to determine where they competed on day two. The top four teams after day one were the ones playing Saturday semifinals for the chance to compete for the tournament championship later that day. Other teams at the event were Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Grand Island, Lincoln Pius, Lincoln Southeast, Lincoln Southwest, Millard West and Westview.
This year, Papillion-LaVista South combined its traditional tournament with Millard North High to create a new 16-team event, which was affiliated with the NFCA for the first time and honored the memory of Williams, who starred at Papillion-LaVista South High and went on to a record-setting career at Division II Wayne State College, before dying unexpectedly due to an irregular heartbeat in 2015 at age 22.
Williams was the first Titan athlete to earn 12 varsity letters during her high school career, collecting four each in softball, basketball, and track and field. She earned academic all-state honors in all three sports, and captained all three squads her final two seasons.
She was all-state in softball three seasons, was a starter on the first Titan girls basketball team to reach the state tournament, and qualified for states all four years as a thrower on the track team, earning five medals and fourth-place finishes in the shot put and discus her senior year. Williams carried a 3.95 grade-point average and was honored as the Runza/KPTM Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the state of Nebraska in 2010-11.
In college, Williams played every game for the Wildcats’ softball squad and earned all-conference honors all four years. She finished as the school-record holder in batting average, runs batted in, doubles and total bases, and graduated with honors.
Williams was posthumously inducted into the Wayne State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018, and her No. 14 jersey is retired at the school.
Money raised at the tournament benefited the Kaiti Williams Memorial Scholarship, which helps female graduates of Papillion-LaVista South High pursue higher education and athletics at the collegiate level.
To see full results from the tournament, click HERE
To donate to the Kaiti Williams Memorial Scholarship fund, visit https://midlandscommunity.org/fund/kaiti-williams-memorial-scholarship-fund/
The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded coaches polls and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to awards, to in-person events and National Convention.