GARDEN CITY — A couple web gems, a bunch of resiliency and a single run in the eighth inning propelled Great Bend High School to a 6-5 extra-inning Western Athletic Conference softball victory over Garden City in the second game of a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
Pitcher Jordan Haney hit a tie-breaking single in the top of the eighth and then she shut the door on the Lady Buffaloes in the bottom half of the inning, thanks to the aforementioned web gems.
Haney snared a scorching line drive off the bat of Garden City clean-up hitter Jennifer St. Clair for the first out in the eighth and then center fielder Nicole Reiter robbed Leslie Ford of a base hit with a shoestring catch on a sinking liner for the second out.
After Haney induced Vanessa Garcia into a ground ball for the third out, the Lady Panthers (13-3 overall, 6-2 WAC) celebrated on the field after handing the Lady Buffs (7-5, 3-1) their first conference loss in gaining a split of the critical doubleheader.
“That’s pure reaction,” Great Bend head coach Carrie Minton said of Haney’s stab of St. Clair’s liner. “She was excited to be out there on the mound and just reacted.
“Huge catch in center field (on Reiter’s play). The girls were just on top of their game at the end and that’s what was nice to see after they made a few errors earlier in the game, that they were able to pick themselves up and be ready to come back and fight.”
Haney said she was as surprised as anyone when she caught St. Clair's smash.
"I don't even know," Haney said. "I just looked down and it was in my glove. It was just like reflexes for protection ... I dunno. I was excited (after Reiter's catch). I knew I had the whole team backing me up and it gave me confidence.
"We're coming together more as a team and we're working hard. We all get along, and we have a good coaching staff."
In the nightcap, Great Bend led 1-0 after scoring its first run in the top of the fourth on Stephanie Morrison’s RBI single, scoring Kaitlee Spray, who had earlier singled. Samantha Dreiling moved Spray into scoring position with a single.
But Garden scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 4-1 edge, highlighted by Ford’s run-scoring single and Garcia’s two-run triple.
In the fifth, the Lady Panthers answered back with four runs of their own for a 5-4 lead, capped by Cassidy Tutak’s two-run single. Abby Morrison led off with a double, Haney singled and Dreiling hit an RBI single, setting in motion their comeback as they sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning. Dreiling later left the game with a finger injury.
After Garden City deadlocked the game at 5-all in the fifth with a single run, that score stood until the eighth.
The first two Lady Panthers batters were retired in the eighth before Reiter singled to center and then Abby Morrison singled to left. Haney followed by clubbing a single into the gap in left-center, driving in Reiter with the eventual winning run.
Garden City, which beat Great Bend 2-1 in the opener on Ford’s tiebreaking solo home run in the fourth, owns a one-game lead in the standings with WAC doubleheaders still to play against Dodge City and Hays. It was Great Bend’s conference finales.
“We had a lot on the line and we understood that,” Minton said. “With the split with Garden and then hopefully a split between Hays and Garden ... we have a piece of the WAC championship.
“There was a lot on the line.”
The junior varsity game with Garden City was not played. Several Great Bend fans that made the road trip were miffed that GCHS never notified GBHS about the cancellation.
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE SOFTBALL
At Garden City
Garden City 2, Great Bend 1
123 456 7 R H E
Great Bend 100 000 0 1 3 0
Garden City 100 100 x 2 6 2
Abby Morrison & McKenna Mauler; Leslie Ford & Jennifer St. Clair. W — Ford. L — A. Morrison. 2B — Great Bend (Stephanie Morrison); Garden City (Cyndi Hernandez). HR — Ford.
Great Bend 6, Garden City 5 (8)
123 456 78 R H E
Great Bend 000 140 01 6 11 3
Garden City 000 410 00 5 6 2
Jordan Haney & Abby Morrison; Kori Thornton & Jennifer St. Clair. W — Haney. L — Thornton. 2B — Great Bend (Abby Morrison). 3B — Garden City (Vanessa Garcia).