WICHITA — The Barton Community College softball team experienced the highs and lows of a season Sunday at Wichita State University’s Wilkens Stadium as the Lady Cougars rallied for a seventh-inning victory but had their 2014 season come to an end a mere two hours later.
Going 1-1 on Day 1 of the NJCAA Region VI Tournament, the Lady Cougars began the final day scoring two seventh-inning runs to bounce Garden City, 9-8, from the tournament for the second consecutive year.
Returning to the near 100-degree field just 20 minutes later, the Lady Cougars couldn’t produce the big hit, losing 5-2 to Seward County for the second straight year in the region’s final three teams.
Barton ends the season under first-year head coach Marc Benjamin at 21-14 while Seward County improved to 47-11 and advanced to the Region VI Championship game against No. 7 Butler Community College.
Barton 9, Garden City 8
Down to their final out, Barton refused to close out its 2014 season, scoring two runs in the seventh to defeat Garden City.
Garden City got up on the Lady Cougars early, scoring two runs with two outs in the top of the first inning, keyed by the two-out double by Mattie Miller and a Barton error.
The Lady Cougars struck back in the home half with five straight singles with Emilia Davies, Allison Smith and Ashlyn Osborne each getting RBIs.
Again the Broncbusters would put two on the board with two outs with three straight singles before Danielle Aronoff’s single up the middle drove in two regaining the lead.
After going down in order in the bottom of the second and two outs in the third, Smith tied it up for Barton, hitting her third home run of the tournament and seventh of the season with a blast off the Shockers Softball scoreboard in left field.
Garden City regained the lead in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff single by Brooke Lovas then coming around to score on Aronoff’s single to center.
The Lady Cougars came through in the home half, tying the contest as Bailey Hensley kept things going with a single up the middle then scored on Candace Bollig’s double to left-center to tie it up.
Holding Garden City to its first three-and-out of the game, Barton seized temporary momentum of the game in the fifth.
Davies led off the inning with a center-field single while Smith reached on the first of two Broncbusters in the inning.
But Garden’s Rachel Roe induced a tailor-made double-play and appeared to be out of the inning.
In stepped Erika Harper, who took over the team lead in home runs in delivering her second long ball of the tournament with a two-run shot to left-center, giving Barton a two run lead.
The Broncbusters wouldn’t go away in the sixth, getting two one-out singles then a two-out walk and singles by Lauren Shanks and Emilie Laliberte to score three in storming back for a one-run lead.
Barton went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and sent the Broncbusters down in order to set up the dramatic final half inning.
Following a Smith fly out to deep centerfield, Texan sophomore Osborne tied it up with her sixth home run of the season, driving a pitch just over the wall in left-center.
Ericka Harper then kept the momentum rolling with a double just inside the third base chalk line.
Following a Britney Meyer ground out and with the Lady Cougars down to their final out, Great Bend freshman Stephanie Morrison kept the inning alive, beating out a high chopper misplayed by the Garden City shortstop Laliberte.
With the Lady Cougars needing one more big hit to advance to the final three for the second straight season, Osborne’s roommate and fellow Texan laced a shot to left for her second Region VI game winning hit to give Barton the 9-8 victory.
Osborne pitched all seven innings improving to 13-13 on the season while Roe took the loss dropping to 7-9.
Seward County 5, Barton 2
With the Saints leadoff Andrea Sitter reaching base, freshman catcher Allison Smith threw out Sitter trying to steal second.
Osborne, pitching her second consecutive game and fourth of the tournament, then struck out Pokey Ewell and despite a nation’s second-best 26th double by Becky Allen, Osborne induced an infield pop up to end the inning.
In what was a game of missed opportunities for the Lady Cougars, Barton stranded the first two of its 11 runners left on base as Candace Bollig and Allison Smith singles went for nought.
After the Saints stranded a leadoff walk in the second, Barton wasted little time taking the early lead in the home half.
Erika Harper got things started with a single to right-center then trotted home as Brittney Meyer blasted her seventh home run of the season, flying well beyond the 215-foot mark in center field.
Getting a Felisha Vogelaar leadoff walk, Sitter cut the Seward deficit in half with a triple to right-center then tied the contest on Ewell’s subsequent groundout.
Barton had an opportunity to capitalize on two Seward County two-out errors but Brittany Hopkins crossed up Harper to induce the inning-ending groundout to second.
Having committed only three errors in three games, the Lady Cougars committed two costly errors in the fourth, allowing Seward to take a two-run lead.
Following a three-up three-down fourth, Barton got consecutive one-out singles in the fifth by Smith and Osborne but a double-play quickly erased the hope of cutting into the deficit.
Osborne and the Lady Cougar defense kept the Saints off the board in the sixth but two quick outs in the home half made a rally hard to produce.
But as the case throughout the tournament, Barton refused to go down without a fight and got a little help from the Lady Saints.
A single by Darby Grizzard got things going, Bailey Hensley reached via a Seward County error, then Bollig was hit by pitch to load the bases.
In stepped the nation’s No. 3 hitter in doubles Emilia Davies but Hopkins got Davies to ground out to third to end the inning.
The Saints tacked on an insurance run in the seventh getting a two-out double by Vanessa Oakden to score Danielle Orr who walked earlier with one-out.
Seward County opened the door for a Barton rally in the home half as Smith reached on the Saints’ fourth error of the game but Hopkins shut the door on Barton’s season getting the last three batters to send Seward County to the title game.
Going the distance for her second straight game, Osborne took the loss as the sophomore ended her Lady Cougar career at 13-14. Despite Barton outhitting the Saints, Hopkins handcuffed Barton when it counted while striking out six to improve to 19-5.
Sophomore Darby Grizzard led Barton in her final game going 2-3 while freshman Allison Smith also had a multi-hit day going 2-4.