The Great Bend High School softball team gets to reap the benefits awarded to them after a 4-1 victory over McPherson on Thursday.
Today, the Lady Panthers, who finished the regular season at 16-4, will have homefield advantage as a No. 2 seed in a Class 5A regional.
Great Bend will face 1-19 Wichita West in the first round at 4:30 p.m. at Harms Field
“I think that we got past the excitement,” Great Bend head coach Carrie Minton said. “The girls realized that winning the other day was great, and it put us in a position that we wanted to be in come regional time.
“Looking back, we were trying to fight for a No. 1 seed, but with this group of girls, I think it is almost better for us where we’re at.”
As the No. 2 seed, Great Bend is the top seed in its regional while Hays, as the No. 1 seed, hosts a regional as well. It allows the Lady Panthers to avoid facing the 19-1 team from the Western Athletic Conference in regional play, not that it matters according to Minton.
“We kind of look at as Hays has one blemish on their record and that’s us,” Minton said. “We’re confident that if we end up facing them, we know we’re capable of beating them.”
The GBHS coach says that she is preparing her teams for all possibilities, including playing either 15-5 Valley Center or 6-14 Liberal in the regional championship game. Those two teams meet at 3 in today’s opener.
“I think the biggest thing for us is knowing that Valley Center is a very good team as well,” Minton said. “If we make it to a point where we make it to a championship game, we’ve faced Liberal and against Valley Center, I think that’s where home-field advantage comes in a little bit.
“Our girls are comfortable on our field. We have all of our fans. If we get past Wichita West, that is where home-field advantage comes into play.”
Last season, Great Bend was knocked out of regional play in a first-round game against Hutchinson.
Lady Panthers lead-off hitter Stephanie Morrison leads the team with a .549 batting average. She has 15 RBIs and 28 hits.
The only other Great Bend batter with an average over .500 is Kaitlee Spray, who has a .516 average with 11 RBIs and 33 hits.
Jordan Haney is the RBI leader with 29. She has a batting average of .439 and has four home runs this season.
“It’ll be a good game,” Minton said. “The girls will have to come out ready to play.”