Great Bend’s Emma Cape sparked the dramatics with a three-run game-winning home run.
Hays-Thomas More Prep salvaged a split with Great Bend, thanks to a bang-bang play at home that luckily went the Monarchs’ way in a 3-2 victory.
Tuesday’s tension-filled softball doubleheader featured stunning defensive plays and intensity that post-season play will feature. The Panthers (9-9) will head to Hutchinson Thursday for its two final regular-season games.
The first-game momentum switched on one perfect Cape swing that launched an Alison Helget pitch over the left-field fence.
Cape had two strikes when she launched a sixth-inning home run that drove home Kendal Sell and Aleah Urban after a perfect bunt and line-drive single.
“At that point, I was looking to put the ball in play,” Cape said. “I knew it was in the ‘green.’ I had no idea I had hit it out.”
She could not recall her last home run, only that it was a long time ago.
“I was very happy I was in a position to make something happen,” she said. “That was fun.”
Panther third baseman Baylee Beck made amazing play-after-play with six plays at the hot corner. Right fielder Sell gunned down pinch runner Lexi Gottschalk at home. Left fielder Aleah Urban made several curcus catches.
The Monarchs two runs scored when catcher Kaylee Unruh was unable to flag down a couple of pitches by Hunter Marcum. Meagan Brin and Bailey Lacy scored fourth-inning runs.
“Emma had a great at-bat.” said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. “TMP is a great softball team. But our defense made several good plays.”
The Monarchs (14-6) scored two runs off the passed balls and also took advantage of an error in the second game.
“We made a few mental mistakes and made a couple of mistakes that allowed them to score some runs,” she said.
Hunter Marcum pitched both games while TMP split games with Helget and Bailey Lacy.
“Hunter was solid and we made good plays backing her up,” Minton said.
TMP 3, PANTHERS 2 — Baylee Beck’s first-inning homer handed the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
After Marcum trapped Bridget Heimann off third base on Meagan Brin’s bunt, left fielder Aleah Urban nearly rescued the Panthers with a perfect third-inning throw to catcher Kaylee Unruh.
Unruh applied a tag on Helget on Bailey Lacy's fly ball, but the softball popped loose. Helget was ruled safe, but it wasn’t clear that Helget touched home plate.
Aleah’s Urban’s RBI single drove home Jenna Mauler after a third-inning bunt single for a 2-1 lead.
The Monarchs’ game-winning fourth-inning rally started with two out when Heimann blooped a ball down the left-field line. Helget and Brin followed with RBI singles for a 3-2 Monarch lead.
Bailey Lacy left Aleah Urban and pinch runner Olivia Urban stranded in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings by working out of trouble.
PANTHERS 3, TMP 2
TMP 002 000 0 — 2 4 0
GB 000 003 x — 3 6 0
Helget and Rupp. Marcum and Unruh. W—Marcum. L—Helget. 2B—GB—Unruh. HR—GB—Cape.
TMP 3, PANTHERS 2
TMP 001 200 0 — 3 8 1
GB 101 000 0 — 2 4 1
Lacy and Rupp, Lexi Gottschlk (3). Marcum and Unruh. W—Bailey. L—Marcum. 2B—T—Helget 2, Bailey. HR—GB—Beck.