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Cougar softball picked second in East, open with losses to Neosho
barton community college softball
Barton softball drops season openers to Cowley.
Special to the Tribune

It has been almost a full year since games were actually played by the Barton softball team.
March 11 of last year was the last time the Cougars played competitive softball. Their season came to a sudden close at 10-9 thanks to the Covid.
That finally changed Saturday afternoon as the Barton softball team took the field for the first time this spring.
It wasn’t the outcome the Cougars wanted, losing a pair of games to Neosho County.
“We are three weeks shy of an entire calendar year since we have competed in a soft-ball game,” Barton coach Tyler Gunelson said. “This group is hungry to get on the field.
“I personally feel bad for all the student athletes who compete in the spring, not just at Barton but in the entire country.”
Barton comes into the 2021 springs picked second in the Jayhawk East. It is one of the few sports at Barton that competes on the East side of the Jayhawk.
Butler is picked to win the East, followed by Barton, Hutchinson, Independence and Pratt.
On the West side, Seward County is picked to win the division followed by Colby, Dodge City, Garden City and Northwest Tech.
Some key players are back for the Cougars as Brooke McCullough returns to her first base spot and will hit in the middle of the lineup for Barton and Kayli Dryden is back at shortstop and hitting leadoff.
In the shortened-season of 2020, McCullough hit .362 with 17 RBI in 19 games with a pair of homers.
Dryden hit .375 and stole 10 bases in 11 attempts to with six doubles, two triples and a home run.
Also back are a trio of outfielders in Lexi Dryden, Kaylee Milligan, and Makayla Chavez. Dryden had a pair of homers, hitting .255. Milligan hit .303 and Chavez .293 with six RBI.
Returning in the circle for the Cougars is Ashlee Lucero, who started eight of the 19 games for Barton. Lucero struck out 48 in 48 innings with an ERA of 4.49.
Some new faces Coach Gunelson is looking to contribute this year are Halie Ston-eking, an outfielder from Colorado, Maidson Faylor, a catcher from Oklahoma, Teegan Krol, an infielder from Hutchinson, and Kayla Beers, a pitcher that transferred from Northeastern Oklahoma.
“The sky is the limit for this group,” Coach Gunelson said. “We will go play Barton soft-ball and see what happens.”
In that opener Saturday at Cougar Fields, Lucero was big in the circle, but was not able to get the win. The sophomore struck out 11 in her eight innings, shutting out Neosho the first seven innings before the Panther plated a pair in the final inning for the win.
Offensively, the Cougars collected just four hits including a pair of doubles from Faylor.
Barton did score in the second game but 4-run innings in both the fifth and sixth by Neosho were the difference.
Faylor hit her first home run for Barton.
The Cougars will head to Texas for games next week then stop in Oklahoma on the way home. In all, Barton hopes to get in eight games in the next week.

Neosho 2, Barton 0 (8)
Neosho 000 000 02 – 2 5 2
Barton 000 000 00 – 0 4 2
Cummings and Hughes. Lucero and Faylor. W – Cummings. L – Lucero (0-1). 2B – Boline, Zito, Neosho; Faylor 2, Barton.
Neosho 10, Barton 4
Neosho 200 044 0 – 10 6 0
Barton 002 002 0 – 4 6 7

Paulson and Dunn; Beers, Horsch (5) and Faylor. W – Paulson. L – Beers (0-1). 3B – Lara, Barton. HR – Birdwell 3, Zito, Neosho; Faylor (1), Barton.