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Cougar softball sweep foes in Concordia; 24-2 on the season
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It has been a start to remember. The season is 26 games old and the Barton softball team has 24 wins.
The latest quintet of wins came in Concordia as Barton swept through a perfect 5-0 weekend at the Cloud County Tournament.
Barton worked through a 3-0 Saturday with a 5-3 win over Iowa Western, a 10-2 win over Iowa Central and a 7-4 win over Highland.
Sunday Barton wrapped up the weekend with an 8-5 win over Muscatine (Iowa) and a 10-0 blanking of host Cloud County.
“This weekend was a pretty good learning experience because we had some games that we had to dig down and find a way to win,” Barton coach Marc Benjamin said. “We’ve had quite a few run rule victories and unfortunately in those games you don’t get challenged on defense or having to execute on offense.”
Barton is now 24-2 on the season with a pair of conference doubleheaders on the docket this week.
From the start, Barton was challenged. Iowa Western jumped to 3-0 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third.
Barton battled back for a pair of runs in the bottom of the third then scored three times in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead.
Maddison Schofield tripled in McKenna Mauler to tie the game in the fifth then came around to score on a passed ball. Cadie O’Donnell scored an insurance run on an error.
That was enough for Madison Didion pitching as she put down Iowa Western in order for the final inning for the win.
The Cougars breezed through their second game Saturday for a run-rule win. Iowa Central did take a 2-0 lead but Brittany Wood blasted her 11th home run of the season to tie it at 2-all in the bottom of the inning.
From there it was all Barton. The Cougars scored 10 straight runs, ending the game in the sixth when Jayden Gonzales drove in a pair and Jenna Hosey drove her home for the 10-2 lead. Holly Posegate earned the win for the Cougars.
The final game of Saturday was against NJCAA D-II 12th ranked Highland.
“Game three was the game I really looked forward to,” Coach Benjamin said. “Highland has a really good program and I was hoping it would be a good game. Their starting pitcher struggled with her control in the first and second inning and we got a big double from McKenna Mauler that scored three.”
That 3-run double by Mauler gave Barton a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the first. But it wasn’t over. Highland battled back to make it 5-3 in the top of the second inning. Schofield jump-started Barton in the second with a double and scored on a Gonzales single. Wood added a sac fly to score O’Donnell and Barton led 7-3.
“I knew Highland would not go down without a fight but when you have Madison Didion pitching like she has been I knew that seven would probably be enough to win,” Coach Benjamin said. “She shut them down for the last four innings and really pitched well the entire game.
“Sometimes you jump out to an early lead and it looks like it will be a short run rule game but then you find yourself in a fight and have to play defense and that’s what we ended up doing. Our offense was just good enough to get the win.”
The Cougars and Muscatine had to battle a strong 40 mph wind Sunday. The Cougars jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second inning then saw Muscatine battle all the way to tie it at 5-all in the sixth. In that inning Posegate pitched out of a bases loaded jam to preserve the tie.
Gonzales delivered for Barton in the bottom of the sixth with a huge 3-run homer for the 8-5 win.
“We jumped on them early with a 5-run second inning but then it seemed like we were running out of gas,” Coach Benjamin said. “We just looked like we were taking really poor swings and had way too many strike outs. Jayden didn’t have the best game but came up huge with the HR.”
In the final game of the weekend, Barton exploded for eight runs in the final inning to blow open a close game. Mauler provided the big blow with a grand slam home run. Didion struck out 13 to improve to 13-1.
“We had to dig down deep in the seventh and that’s exactly what we did,” Coach Benjamin said. “We put together some good at bats and then one mistake to McKenna and we are breathing a lot easier.”
Barton will be at home Wednesday to battle Seward County in Jayhawk West action. The doubleheader will start at 2 pm. Friday Barton will travel to Dodge City for two more West games at 2 pm.
“As a team we are learning that it doesn’t always come easy and sometimes you just have to want it more than your opponents,” Coach Benjamin said. “I think we showed a little of that this weekend. Hopefully we can carry this momentum to the rest of the season and our conference opponents.”