Barton Community College has a critical weekend baseball series coming up, when the Cougars host a pair of doubleheaders with Cloud County (Concordia) on Saturday and Sunday at Lawson-Biggs Field, starting at 1 p.m. each day.
Barton is gunning for a top-2 finish in the wide-open Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division race.
The battle for a top-2 finish in the West and a home site for opening round play in the NJCAA Region VI tournament will be at least a bit clearer after this weekend.
For the Cougars to keep those hopes alive, Barton would need to win at least three games against Cloud (4-12, 16-14).
BCC is 8-2 in conference play in Day 2 of a series.
A pair of teams ahead of the Cougars – Seward County (11-5) and Garden City (10-2) – will face off in Garden. The only other team ahead of the Cougars is Colby, and its series at Dodge City this weekend does not count toward region standings. Dodge is playing Division II this season.
The Cougars will pitch the remainder of the season without Robbie Van Cour who broke a finger in practice Friday. Van Cour had been Barton’s No. 3 starter all conference season and one of the most effective pitchers this year.
Van Cour is 4-1 on the year with a 5.01 ERA. In his last three West outings, Van Cour had allowed just six earned runs on 17 hits with 19 strikeouts and six walks.
The Cougars will have to shuffle their rotation with the loss of Van Cour. Ian Smith started in his place against Colby during last weekend’s series split after spending the season in the late innings out of the Barton bullpen. AJ Green and Tayler Davis are also candidates to start in the upcoming series against Cloud County as Barton looks to shape its rotation for the stretch run of the regular season.
Jordan Slade and Tanner Carpenter were just two Cougars batters to have a big series at the plate against Colby. Slade hit .438 with seven hits, five RBIs and three runs scored from his leadoff spot. The sophomore center fielder had a triple and two doubles.
Carpenter hit .500 going 6-of-12 with three RBI and four runs scored. After a rough start, Slade has worked his way up to .277 for the season, and his 49 total bases are third on the team. Carpenter is second in batting average at .366.
— Mack McClure