Last season, the Great Bend High School softball team went 13-0 before falling in the second game of a doubleheader against Western Athletic Conference foe Hays.
That was with a pair of freshmen starting pitchers.
This season, Braylin Bretz and Hunter Middleton have a season of experience under their belts, and the entire supporting cast back from 2012.
“I think we have very athletically competitive young ladies on our team,” GBHS head coach Carrie Minton said. “They have high expectations of themselves, and that’s great to have. We, as coaches, don’t have to push them as much because they’re already pushing themselves.
“They know what their goals are, and they know that they’re going to have to work hard to achieve them.”
Today, the Lady Panthers start their 2013 campaign in a season- and home-opening doubleheader against Hoisington at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
The Great Bend baseball team plays Hoisington as well. Both twinbills start at 4 p.m.
Before the first games, there will be a ceremony unveiling a metal art sculpture at 3:45.
Great Bend went on to win a WAC title last year after Garden City split a doubleheader with Hays.
Hays finished 6-2 in the WAC. The Lady Panthers held a 7-1 mark.
Bretz, who was 9-1 last season with an ERA of 1.97, allowed 67 hits in 64 innings pitched.
Middleton held an 8-4 mark after the 2012 season closed. She finished with a 2.02 ERA, only allowing 57 hits in 76 1/3 innings pitched.
Middleton also led the team with 73 strikeouts.
“We’ve seen they have much more confidence in what they’re doing on the mound,” Minton said. “We encourage them to keep pushing themselves, and they really push each other to be better.”
Minton said that her team as a whole is still pretty young, with only three seniors.
“They all have one more year of maturity,” Minton said. “We’re still very young, but we have three seniors, so we have that leadership. All of these girls played last year, so we’re a mature, young team.”
Great Bend finished the season 17-5, but it’s strong start to last season had them chasing a school record.
The best softball mark in school history is 20-3, set in 2006.
Great Bend’s original season opener at Larned was postponed to April 30 due to inclement weather.