When his Colton Wildcats on their first softball title, coach Brad Nilson got a tattoo on his right bicep to mark the occasion. That he shared the title with his daughter Gabby made it all the more special.
Fast forward to May 2012. The Wildcats won their fourth straight 1B state title Saturday, toppling a persistent Almira/Coulee-Hartline squad 5-2 at the Gateway Sports Complex. Nilson’s youngest daughter, Taylor, was the winning pitcher, and after filling his right arm with mementos of titles in 2010 and 2011, Nilson’s left bicep will be getting some artwork once he returns home.
The win caps Colton’s season at 25-1 and runs their state tournament winning streak to 12 games. For the second straight year the Wildcats beat ACH in the championship game.
After giving up two runs – and the lead — in the second inning, Taylor Nilson settled down and kept the Wildcats batters off balance the rest of the way, scattering two hits across the final five innings. She had some help from her defense which made several stellar plays.
The Wildcats offense picked it up late, scoring twice in the fifth and sixth innings to take control of the contest.
With two out in the fifth, Haley Moser singled and went to third on a ground-rule double by Erin Weber. Both scored on a booming single to center field by Megan Heitsturnan. ACH starter Madeline Issak retired Hannah Kramer to end the inning but Colton’s offense was rolling.
The Wildcats struck right away in the sixth inning. Pinch hitter Savannah Chadwick and Winnie Schultheis singled, followed by a double by Carrie Hennigar. Chadwick made a nifty play avoiding the tag of ACH catcher Jordan Jones and when Schultheis followed to make it 5-2, Nilson was quietly trying to figure out how to fit a third state championship trophy into a crowded trophy case.