By JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – Great Bend's softball team led Wichita Northwest 10-2 and were six outs away from a shocking 5A regional championship.
The Grizzlies rallied for nine runs in their final two at-bats to steal an 11-10 championship victory over the hard-luck Panthers. Northwest (17-3) heads to the 5A state tournament while Great Bend ends with a hard-luck 13-7 record.
Northwest scored six runs to slice the margin to 10-8 after six innings.
Great Bend was one out away with the tying and winning runners on base when Grizzly Hannah Joynt delivered the game-winning base hit to score the final two runs. Joynt delivered an identical clutch base hit to draw the Grizzlies within 10-8. The Grizzlies had four hits, two walks, two errors and a hit batter in the six-run inning.
Great Bend's Kaylee Unruh and McKayla Williams each drove in three runs. Aleah Urban, Jenna Mauler and Brenna Bownes also drove in runs for a 10-2 lead. Williams drove home Shailey Clark and Kaylee Unruh for a 10-2 lead.
Panther starter Shanaeia Mehlhaff held the Grizzlies in check for five innings. Reliever Shana Mehlhaff was unable to rescue the Panthers, who returned to Shanaeia in the final inning.
GREAT BEND 7, HAYS HIGH 6 (G1) – Sparkplug Aleah Urban doubled and scored the game-winning run on an eighth-inning throwing error by catcher McKenzie Fagan.
The Panthers forced extra innings when McKayla Williams singled home Shailey Clark for a 6-6 tie after seven innings. Clark and Kaylee Unruh reached base on hit by pitches.
The Indians rallied from a 5-2 deficit for a 6-5 lead on Madelyn Waddell’s three-run homer that drove home Cassidy Prough and Kaitlyn Brown. Brenna Schwien and Prough walked to start the inning. Brown singled home Schwien for the Indians’ third run.
Reanna Harman’s two-run single scored Macee Altman and Fagan for a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Cailee McMullen drove home Kaylee Unruh and Aleah Urban doubled home McMullen and Grace Rowland for a 3-2 lead.
Shailey Clark’s two-run homer drove home Jenna Mauler for a 5-2 lead after five innings.
Hays High 020 000 40 – 6 7 1
Great Bend 030 201 11 – 7 8 1
Wichers and Fagan. Sarah Mehlhaff, Shanaeia Mehlhaff (7) and Unruh. W—Shanaeia Mehlhaff. L—Wichers. 2B—GB—Urban 2, Unruh; HR—GB—Clark; T—Waddell.