DODGE CITY— Taking care of business when it mattered most. That is what the Barton Community College softball team did Wednesday afternoon in a sweep of Dodge City.
The Cougars broke late inning ties in both games with big final innings to move into sole possession of third place in the Jayhawk West. Barton won the opener 11-6 then completed the sweep with a 9-1 win in the finale. Barton is now 10-8 in the West and 28-13 overall. Dodge City falls to 7-9 and 20-14.
“It’s exciting to see their hard work paying off,” Barton assistant coach Anna Voss said. “We have to keep capitalizing on their errors. Consistency pays off. We had a couple tough innings in both games throwing in some errors.”
The sweep broke Barton free from a tie for third with Garden City and Dodge City. With the wins Barton gave Dodge payback for the only sweep against the Cougars in conference play earlier this season.
Barton has now won five of its past six conference games and eight of its last nine overall.
The Cougars trailed most of the opener. Dodge scored four times in the second to take a 4-0 lead and did not trail until the final inning.
Erica Harper cut it to 4-2 with a 2-run homer to center in the third scoring Bailey Hensley. It was Harper’s 17th home run this season to tie her for the NJCAA lead.
“We had been telling Erica since the beginning of the year that she needed to step up because of the sophomores we lost last year,” Voss said. “She is filling their shoes well.”
A pair of home runs in the fifth cut the lead to a single digit. Kylie Everill hit a leadoff homer to left to make it 6-4 then Holly Posegate hit a 1-out shot to center to make it 6-5.
Great Bend freshman McKenna Mauler tied the game in the sixth with a leadoff home run to right – her third of the season.
Barton exploded for five runs in the seventh to lock down the win. Baylee Bakovich gave Barton its first lead of the game with a single to score Samantha White. White came in to run for Posegate who led off the inning with a single.
Caitlin Garcia gave Barton an 8-6 lead with a single to score Jenna Hosey then Hensley drove the first pitch she saw over the center field fence for a 3-run homer and an 11-6 lead.
Taylor Bugner came on in relief of Everill in the seventh to shut the door on Dodge City and preserve the win. With the win Everill improved to 4-2 this season.
The bats were very productive in the opener as the Cougars hit five home runs in the win and had 14 hits overall.
The second game was similar in that Barton broke a tie in the final inning for the win but that is where the similarities ended.
This time the two teams were locked in a 1-all pitching duel. Bugner and Mia Trujillo battled through four innings with each giving up just a third inning run.
Barton took a 1-0 lead in the third when Brianna Ward singled in Mauler. But a Taryn Garza homer in the bottom of the inning tied it at 1-all.
That is where it stayed until the top of the fifth when Barton plated eight runs to win by the run-rule.
Most of the damage was the result of Dodge’s inability to field or pitch in that inning. Garcia did hit a 1-out double in the inning but that was followed by an error that proved large. Mauler reached on the error to put runners on the corner. Hensley struck out and the inning would have been over if not for the error.
Ward took advantage with a single to score Garcia. Back-to-back walks and a passed ball made it 4-1. Posegate and Bakovich each single to score three more then another error made it 8-1. Finally a passed ball gave Barton the run it needed to end the game early.
Bugner put Dodge down in order in the bottom of the inning and end the game early. The win improves her to 12-5 for the season. Bugner allowed just three hits and struck out five in the win. Barton had just six hits in the game – two from Ward who drove in three runs.
“Softball is all about hitting and pitching,” Voss sais. ‘We keep the first pitch strike mentality on the mound and look for our pitches at the plate. As long as we keep making the routine plays, good things are going to happen.”
The Cougars can close in on the conference lead with a pair of games at El Dorado Friday. Barton will battle league-leading Butler in a doubleheader at 3 p.m. Butler is 10-4 in the West with a 1-game lead on Seward County. The Grizzlies are 23-13 overall.