WICHITA – It was a heartbreaking finish for Great Bend’s pesky softball team.
The Panthers rallied from a 5-1 deficit, saw a runner thrown out at home and stranded the tying and go-ahead runners on base in the seventh inning.
Arkansas City escaped with a hair-raising 5-4 victory Tuesday over Great Bend, which stranded nine baserunners at the Two Rivers softball complex. The Bulldogs hammered three home runs off losing pitcher Hunter Marcum boosted by a southerly wind gusting past 25 mph.
Kendel Sell’s clutch two-run triple drove home Brooklyn Burkhart and Baylee Beck to slice the lead to 5-3. Aleah Urban’s groundout scored Sell for a 5-4 deficit after six innings.
The Panthers threatened again in the seventh inning when Shailey Clark and pinch-hitter Mikalya Bownes singled off pitcher Alexis Boone with two out. Boone retired Olivia Urban for the season-ending pop out to end the Panthers’ season.
Left fielder Kirsten Birdwell provided the game’s key defensive play when she threw out Clark at home on Jenna Mauler's base hit in the fifth inning. Clark singled, Emma Cape walked and pinch-hitter Mauler delivered a single to left field.
Kaylee Unruh’s bases-loaded walk forced home Beck in the third inning. Sell and Aleah Urban loaded the bases after Beck reached on an error. Boone worked out of the bases-loaded jam by retiring Clark and Emma Cape.
Marcum provided the Panthers’ best defensive play by starting a fourth-inning double play on Porter’s pop out.
Chevelle Sartin drilled a two-run fifth-inning homer and Allison Moore and Braylee Ruyle hit windblown homers in the first and fourth innings. Abbey Legleiter scored the Bulldogs’ second-inning run on Tracy Porter’s sacrifice fly.
The Panthers finish the season with a 10-11 record. No. 1 seed Wichita Carroll beat Arkansas City 12-0 in the finals after beating Great Bend and Arkansas City last year to qualify for 5A state softball.
BULLDOGS 5, PANTHERS 4
GB 001 003 0 – 4 9 2
AC 110 120 x – 5 9 2
Marcum and Unruh. Boone and Legleiter. W—Boone. L—Marcum. 2B—GB—Unruh; AC--Birdwell. 3B—GB-Sell. HR—AC—Moore, Ruyle, Sartin.