It has been a season full of ‘first time since’ for the Barton Community College softball team.
Wednesday afternoon the Cougars hit another one. The Cougars hit the 30-win mark for the first time since 2005 with a Jayhawk West split against Garden City at Cougars Fields. Garden City won the first game 4-2 then Barton blanked the Broncbusters 9-0 in the second game.
The split left the two clubs in a flat-footed tie for third in the West at 11-11. Barton is now 30-16 overall while Garden City is 25-24.
That 2005 team went 30-36. The Cougars will now chase the 2002 Barton team that was the last to post 40 wins in a 40-19 season.
“Thirty wins shows definite improvement in the softball program, but we are hoping for a number a lot closer to 40,” Assistant Coach Anna Voss said. “It’s another “what if” situation – what if we hit better the first game. We probably would have been able to come up with two wins.”
Barton fell behind in the opener as Garden scored two in the second and one more in the third. The Cougars made a game of it in the fourth by plating a pair of runs of their own.
Brianna Ward led off the inning with a single – the first hit of the game off Garden starter Sidney Coleman. Erica Harper added a 1-out single then Holly Posegate drove in Ward with a single. Harper scored on a Jenna Hosey single to cut the Garden lead to 3-2.
That is where the game stayed until the Broncbusters added an insurance run in the seventh for a 4-2 lead. Barton could only manage a leadoff walk in its final at bat that was wiped out by Garden’s third double play of the game.
Taylor Bugner took the loss, giving up three earned runs on seven hits in going the distance. She struck out six and walked just one falling to 12-7.
The second game started slowly as well before Barton took command in the fourth. The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the third when Bailey Hensley delivered a 2-out double and scored on a Ward single.
Barton opened that lead up in the fourth with four more runs. McKenna Mauler delivered the big hit in the hitting – a bases loaded triple down the right field line to score Holly Posegate, Posey, and Abby Tipton. Mauler scored on Hensley’s single to make it 5-0.
Harper led off the fifth with her 19th home run of the season to make it 6-0. Harper ended the game one inning later with her 20th homer to score Hensley and Ward and give Barton a run-rule win 9-0.
Her 20 home runs ties her with Shea Ibrahim of the College of Southern Idaho for tops in the nation. Harper now has 79 RBI, good for third in the nation. That number is just two back of the lead held by Emily Church of Southern Union State at 81.
“Erica Harper is having a heck of a season,” Voss said. “She has really come up big for us so far and we need her to just continue her momentum. Erica is not the player that gets a big head because things are going well. She’ll continue to do what she needs to do to help the team as a whole.”
Posegate picked up the win with the 4-hit shutout to improve to 14-7.
Barton will step away from conference play for a week before hosting Pratt at the Great Bend Sports Complex April 22. In between the Cougars will play doubleheaders at Tabor, at the Kansas State Club Team then at home against the Kansas Wesleyan JV.