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Lady Panthers return entire varsity team from last season for 2013 campaign
spt kp Softball Elizabeth Barber
Great Bend first baseman Elizabeth Barber had a .400 batting average with a team-leading 18 RBIs. - photo by Kevin Price Great Bend Tribune file photo

Inclement weather may have hampered some of the Great Bend High School softball team’s preseason practices, but after their March 26 doubleheader against Larned was postponed to April 30, the Lady Panthers had more time to prepare.
Now GBHS has until Thursday to sharpen its skills before a season-opening doubleheader against Hoisington at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
“For us, I think that we’re very fortunate that we have some great softball players,” Great Bend head coach Carrie Minton said after her team was forced to practice inside due to inclement weather last week. “We’ve had a lot of young ladies who spent a lot of time over the winter getting prepared for the season. That’s, of course, beneficial.
“The one drawback is that we haven’t been able to get outside, and when we do, it’s been sporadic. Not enough to where we’ve been able to put together a good series of practices.”
That’s not to say there aren’t things Minton and her squad, which finished 17-5 overall last season, have found to work on inside.
“We do what we can,” Minton said. “We’ve done a lot of hitting inside. Of course, the first time out on the field, I expect us to be a little rusty, but I think things will start to shape up once we get outside.”
The Lady Panthers return every player from the varsity team that went 7-1 in Western Athletic Conference play for a WAC title.
“We have three seniors this year,” Minton said. “We returned everybody from last year. We have some incoming freshmen. I feel like we’re pretty deep because we have the young ladies who played JV last year, who have a year of experience under their belt, and then everybody back on varsity.
“I’m looking forward to some really good games.”
Among the seniors is Stephanie Morrison, who was the lead-off hitter for the Lady Panthers last season with a .390 batting average. She finished with 16 RBIs.
Bonny Boultinghouse, who had a .339 batting average, and Samantha Dreiling, who finished with an average of .296, are the other two seniors this season.
Great Bend is also returning both starting pitchers from last year.
Braylin Bretz finished with a 9-1 record and a 1.97 ERA, and Hunter Middleton posted an 8-4 mark with a 2.02 ERA.
“Our pitching staff is another year into it and another year mature,” Minton said. “I think we’re going to be really strong.”
Having all of last season’s players back makes missing a few outdoor practices less of an issue, according to Minton.
“It makes things a lot easier when we’re covering things,” Minton said. “It’s not like we’re having to start from scratch. There’s a little bit less introduction, more review. With the freshmen, it just makes it easier for them to pick it up as well because they have the upperclassmen to help them out.”
Minton said she expects big things this season after her team missed a berth in the Class 5A state tournament after a 2-1 setback against Goddard-Eisenhower in a regional championship game a year ago.
“We’re hoping to take WAC again and hoping to build off that last loss of the season against Goddard-Eisenhower and pick up where we left off,” Minton said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a good season.”