Great Bend rallied for a softball split with Hutchinson High.
BY JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend's Katherine Mazouch ignited a late-inning rally against Hutchinson High with a dramatic 3-run tying home run.
Sadly, Hutchinson High's Brooke Hogan drilled the game-winning homer for a 6-5 opening softball victory.
Mazouch earned her spot in the limelight with a game-ending double that clinched the Panthers 16-6 second game victory at the windswept Great Bend Sports Complex. Winds gusted past 30 mph, making pop ups and outfield fly balls a defensive nightmare.
"It was exciting to see the girls hit the softball and string hits together up-and-down the lineup," said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. "Getting that first win will help us carry momentum into next week. You can see several girls build their confidence."
The Panthers complimented their hitting by executing the bunting game successfully.
"You like to put pressure on the defense. You can maybe force some mistakes and take advantage," she said. "In order to be good hitters, you like the bunting game to be part of their arsenal. The girls have shown the ability to execute in those situations."
Great Bend (1-3) plays at Liberal April 4 for a single game and returns home April 6 for two games against the Redskins.
HUTCHINSON 6, PANTHERS 5 (G1, 9 innings) – Mazouch provided the Panthers an opportunity for an early-season highlight with a homer that plated Analiz Rivas and Denver Ringo for a 5-5 tie.
"It was phenomenal for a young lady to come up with a huge hit," said Minton. "It's good for her and her teammates when they see that. It allowed us to battle for a couple more innings to try and earn a win."
But Hogan spoiled the fun with her second home run off Panther pitcher Paige Thexton, who struck out 10 batters in a masterful performance in blustery conditions.
Hutchinson led 5-0. Hogan scored on a passed ball. Jaden Durant scored on a wild pitch. Grace Marciano and Maddie Rayl drove home runs. Hogan's homer made it 5-0.
Thexton and Kamryn Koelsch scored Panther runs on fifth-inning errors. Rivas and Ringo kept the Panthers alive to set up Mazouch's game-changing home run.
The Panthers stranded the game-winning baserunner in the seventh and eighth innings. Right fielder Mazouch preserved the 5-5 tie with a dazzling eighth-inning catch of a Lauryn Davis line drive.
PANTHERS 16, HUTCHINSON 6 (G2) – No. 9 batter Halle Post sparked the Panthers with four hits and three RBIs in a wild nightcap. The Panthers scored six runs in the first inning and six runs in the sixth inning.
DeShawna Bryant and Ringo each doubled twice. Mazouch and Bryant each drove home two runs. Lauryn Davis, Rivas, Ringo and McCauley each drove in a run. Mazouch's double scored Bryant with he game-ending run.
Panther pitcher Turner kept Hutchinson's offense under control in the windy conditions.
"We had good pitching and defense," Minton said. "We cleaned out defense up after our first two games and that helps your pitchers. Our goal is to continue to improve our defense and at the plate."
Hutchinson 010 310 001 – 6 8 5
Great Bend 000 020 300 – 5 11 3
Grace Marciano and Hogan. Thexton and Davis. W—G. Marciano, 1-0. L—Thexton, 0-2. HR—GB—Mazouch; H—Hogan 2.
Hutchinson 103 200 – 6 14 5
Great Bend 612 106 – 16 21 0
Pratt, Garland (5), G. Marciano (6) and Durant. Turner and Davis, Koelsch. W—Turner, 1-1. L—Pratt, 0-1. 2B—GB—Bryant 2, Ringo 2, McCauley, Mazouch, Rivas; H–G. Marciano 2, Davis