Great Bend High School head softball coach Carrie Minton, now in her second year at the helm, has her team off to a stronger start than her first season.
The Lady Panthers, who are 8-0 thus far, once again put their spotless record on the line today against Scott City at the City of Great Bend Sports Complex. The doubleheader begins at 4 p.m.
“It’s been a positive start,” Minton said. “The girls have been playing really hard, but at the same time, we’ve been telling them that the schedule is going to get tougher in the next few weeks.”
The Lady Panthers started 6-0 last season before splitting a doubleheader with Larned on the road.
That didn’t happen this season as Great Bend played host to the Lady Indians in the season opener and christened the newly opened ballfield with 13-3 and 11-1 victories.
Great Bend is averaging over 10 runs per game this season while allowing the opposition a little over two.
The Lady Panthers have been unforgiving to their opposing team’s batters, starting in the circle with freshman pitchers Braylin Bretz and Hunter Middleton.
“Our pitching staff has worked really hard from top to bottom,” Minton said. “They’re freshmen, but they’re not inexperienced. They played a lot over the summer. They set the bar pretty high for themselves.”
Bretz has allowed 27 hits and eight runs in 24 innings pitched this season. Middleton has been dominant, giving up 12 hits and six runs in 25 innings in 2012. She recorded nine strikeouts against Western Athletic Conference foe Liberal on Tuesday.
In four games apiece, neither pitcher has been relieved as they have thrown complete games every time out.
As for the Lady Panthers’ explosive offense, it seems as though a different spark arises each game. In fact, a single spark can’t even be pinpointed in their most recent wins at Liberal — 8-1 and 17-1 — to open Western Athletic Conference play.
“It’ll be tough to talk about anybody from the Liberal games,” Minton said. “We came up with key hits up and down the lineup.
“Stephanie Morrison has been very consistent getting on base for us as the leadoff hitter. Dakota Sanders opened the season with a couple of home runs. McKenna Mauler, Hannah Mauler, Tarynn Stueder, they have all really been good for us at the plate.”
Minton said she believes it’s just a matter of her team being more confident at the plate.
“We’ve been trying to get the girls to be more aggressive,” Minton said. “Last year, I thought we were a little timid. This year, they’ve picked it up and gone with it and it’s really paid off.”