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Middleton breaks school records in sweep of TMP
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Hunter Middleton broke two school records in Tuesday’s 10-0 and 7-1 sweeping of visiting Thomas More Prep. The Panther senior recorded 12 strike outs in the first game and retired one more for good measure after an inning’s work in game two to break the single season strikeout record with 137 for the season. Middleton also collected her 15th win of 2015 breaking another school record.

Through the first four innings of Tuesday’s first round, Middleton struck out ten opposing batters.

Middleton started the fifth two strikeouts away from breaking the school record for single season strikeouts and three outs away from picking up her record-breaking 15th season victory. The Panther ace retired the leadoff hitter for TMP. With a pitcher’s count against the ensuing batter, Middleton nailed the Monarch’s Morgan Choitz for a free trip to first base. Middleton recovered and made quick work of the next opposing hitter and saddled her milestone 136th strikeout for the season.  

Offensively, Great Bend scattered their ten runs over a three inning span. Kacee Kasselman posted a pair of singles in the second and third innings which led to runs scored for the home team. Great Bend scored five runs in their half of the fourth. A two-run single by Middleton followed by an error by the Monarch defense supplied the final three runs for the Panthers as Middleton and the Great Bend defense shut down any hopes of a TMP rally and ended the game in the fifth by virtue of the mercy rule.

Middleton, Kasselman, Regan Unruh and Carly Dreling posted a pair of hits each for the Panthers. Hannah Mauler and Middleton also recorded doubles in the shut out.

In game two, Middleton worked one inning with a strikeout reaching the 137 season-strikeout mark. From that point Hunter Marcum worked the circle and went the rest of the way with six strikeouts to pick up the win.

Dakota Sanders had a hot bat at the plate as she recorded her fifth homerun of the season with a two-run blast in the Panther second. A line drive by Lakin Funk then scored Mauler and put Great Bend up 3-0 after two frames. Later, Regan Unruh scored on a single by Kasselman to give the Panthers a 4-0 advantage. The Monarchs only score arrived in the top of the fourth off a wild pitch and pulled TMP’s deficit to within three, trailing 4-1.

The Panthers added three runs for insurance in their half of the fourth inning including an RBI ground out by Lauren Welsch which scored Sanders.  

Regan Unruh batted a perfect three for three in the second contest that included a two-bagger to left field. Sanders finished at two for three including her two-run homer and a single while Kasselman had two hits and two RBI.

The sweep over TMP improves Great Bend’s record to 16-2 on the season and seals the No. 1 seed. Great Bend is slated to host next week’s class 5A regional on May 19. The Panthers will face Hutchinson in the final regular season series Thursday at the Great Bend Sports Complex at 4 p.m. A special senior recognition ceremony will be held between games.