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Defending champion Carroll beats Panthers
Great Bend Panther Jordan Turner delivers a pitch against Wichita Carroll. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune

Defending champion downs Panthers


WICHITA – No. 16 seed Great Bend earned an up-close look at what a state softball champion looks like when they played defending 5A champion Wichita Carroll. The Panthers kept battling.

The Golden Eagles cruised to a 15-0 run-rule victory, and closed out its 45th consecutive victory with a 3-0 shutout championship victory Wednesday over Salina South.  Carroll’s last loss was 12-1 to Shawnee Heights in the 2019 state championship. The Golden Eagles have won a state record 14 softball titles.

Carroll flexed its skill by exhibiting power, speed, pitching and defense. The Golden Eagles ripped out five extra-base hits and ran the bases superbly at the Two Rivers Complex.

The Panthers were able to count several small victories against the Golden Eagles.

Panther leadoff batter Rylee Prilling singled and reached base twice. Paige Thexton singled on a line drive. Shortstop Thexton made a diving catch on Kiley Brewster’s pop fly in foul territory. Right fielder Brooke McReynolds snared a hard liner by Kadence Brewster.

After Prilling reached on a first-inning error and Thexton singled, Carroll pitcher Audrey Taylor retired DeShawna Bryant, Alaniz Rivas and Briley Richter to preserve a shutout. Pitcher Jordan Turner (3-9) threw strikes and kept Carroll off stride with off-speed pitches.

The Panthers put the ball into play nine times, recording two strikeouts. Great Bend’s hitters placed hittable pitches into play. Carroll shortstop Kory Schofield was up to the challenge with a double play ball and a relay that beat Brooke McReynolds to first base.

“You know what to expect with Carroll. From the hitting standpoint, we did a great job,” said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. “Jordan Turner did her job with off-speed pitches. She kept the ball off the plate. Carroll eventually made the adjustments.”

The Panthers earned a postseason bid by beating Hays Thomas More Prep 14-7 last week.

“I’m extremely proud of our girls,” Minton said. “They faced adversity and continued to work all year long no matter what happened. They were determined to compete day-in, and day-out.”

But five errors and two missed opportunities for inning-ending force plays cost the Panthers eight unearned runs.

“Unfortunately, we committed a few errors behind Turner,” Minton said. “You can’t give a team like Carroll extra chances and extra bases.”

Lily Martin’s 3-run triple capped a 5-run first inning. Campbell Riordan drilled a 2-run homer in a 9-run second inning. Kadence Brewster finished off the 9-run inning with a 2-run triple after earlier hitting an RBI double. Kiley Brewster and Kaylee Back also delivered RBIs. Lily Martin’s game-ending single scored pinch runner Lilly Arnold.

Great Bend 000 00 – 0 2 4

Wichita Carroll 591 1 – 15 13 0

Turner and Davis. Taylor and Kiley Brewster. W—Taylor. L—Turner, 3-9. 2B—WC—Kiley Brewster, Kadence Brewster. 3B—WC—Martin, Kadence Brewster. HR—WC—Riordan.