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Panther softball downs McPherson and Mulvane in season opener
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MCPHERSON- Lauren Welsh posted a combined 6-for-8 performance at the plate to lead the Great Bend softball team to a 2-game sweep in the season opener against McPherson and Mulvane Monday.

The Panthers snuffed a rally in the bottom of the seventh in the first game to claim a 5-4 victory over the Bullpups. Great Bend then unleashed an 11-hit barrage while yielding just two hits from the opposition in an 11-1 thumping of Mulvane.

In the first contest against McPherson, cleanup hitter Hunter Middleton led off the top of the second inning with a triple then scored on an outfield error to give Great Bend a 1-0 lead. Middleton struck again in the fourth with a leadoff double and scored on a sacrifice ground out by Kacee Kasselman.  

The Bullpups reeled in two runs in their half of the fourth to tie the game at 2. Welsh tripled and scored in the fifth off an RBI single by Dakota Sanders as the Panthers took the go ahead leading 3-2. Great Bend would score twice in the top of the final frame as Regan Unruh crossed the plate on a 2-out triple by Sanders. Sanders then came across off an infield single by Hannah Honimichal. McPherson’s rally was cut short with two runs in the bottom of the seventh giving the Panthers the 5-4 victory.

Great Bend attacked in their second at-bat against Mulvane with five runs and added five more in the third. The Wildcats notched their only run in the fifth before the Panthers sealed the lid in the bottom half as Hunter Marcum scored off an RBI triple by Welsh. The game was called in the fifth due to the mercy rule.

Middleton (2-0) combined for 11 innings of work from the circle and 17 strikeouts in Monday’s doubleheader win after posting a complete game victory against McPherson.    

“It was great to see the girls come out ready for these two teams,” said coach Carrie Minton. “We hit the ball very well and had good run production. We lost a lot of players last year from graduation so we’re trying our best to find chemistry early on in the season.”

The Panthers start the 2015 run at 2-0 and will visit Andover on April 7. First pitch is slated for 4 pm.