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Spring Hill ends Panthers' softball season
Great Bend Panther DeShawnna Bryant is greeted by teammates after a home run against Spring Hill. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune


WICHITA – Great Bend’s softball team led No. 1 seed Spring Hill 4-3 with the bases loaded and no out. DeShawnna Bryant blasted a home run and Halle Post singled in pinch runner Rylee Prilling for a 4-3 lead.

Bronco pitcher Jaleigh White shut down the Panthers’ rally by retiring Katherine Mazouch, who drove in a run, Paige Thexton and Camdyn Post to keep the Broncos within 5-3 after 31/2 innings. The Panthers scored five runs off White (16-1), who retired the final 12 batters. White yielded 10 runs in two games after yielding six earned runs in 90 innings.

Spring Hill scored 11 runs in the next three at-bats to roar past the Panthers 14-5 in Thursday’s 5A state softball tournament. The Broncos hit five doubles and added a home run.

Great Bend (22-7) returns seven starters and three pitchers after making the 5A state tournament for the first time in nine years at the Wichita State softball complex.

“Our girls have competed for a long time to get where we’re at today,” said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. “We aren’t satisfied just being here. Our expectation was to shake things up today. Our underclassmen have set the tone that the state tournament is where we need to be year-in, and year-out.”

Shortstop Paige Thexton made several dazzling defensive plays. Centerfielder Camdyn Post made a diving third-inning catch.

After playing brilliant mistake-free softball, Panther pitchers Braelyn Turner (8-5, 3.88 ERA) and Chayla Prendergast (11-2, 4.91 ERA) combined to yield four walks, three hit batters and six wild pitches. Three Broncos scored after walks, three scored after hit-by-pitches, two on errors and one on a wild pitch.

The Broncos led 3-0 after two innings. White delivered an RBI single and Blaire Sommer drilled a 2-run homer.

Alyssa McCauley doubled and scored on Mazouch’s third-inning double. Mazouch scored on Camdyn Post’s single for a 3-2 score. Bryant homered to ignite a 3-run fourth inning. McCauley singled in Prilling. Halle Post scored on Mazouch’s groundout for a 5-3 lead.

“We were happy with things we did,” Minton said. “We dug in and took care of business for a while. Had we played our best softball, we would’ve won.”

The Broncos’ fifth-inning rally started when rightfielder Bryant nearly caught Emma Reeves' line drive. White delivered an RBI single and scored on a wild pitch. Nora Burrell scored on an error for a 7-5 lead.

Spring Hill converted three walks and two hit-batters into a 7-run sixth inning. Ellie Ruffin and Campbell Mermis drilled back-to-back 2-run doubles and Olivia Fraley hit an RBI double for a 14-5 lead.

“We opened the door and you can’t give a good team opportunities,” Minton said. “When they busted it open, it was going to be tough to regroup. The momentum went in their favor. We’re that type of team too.”

Seniors Thexton, Halle Post and Prilling were among the players who showed the emotion of a tough postseason loss.

“These girls are competitors,” Minton said. “You want to walk away with a win. That didn’t happen and it’s emotional.”

Great Bend 002 300 0 – 5 7 3

Spring Hill 120 137 x – 14 13 1

Turner, Prendergast (4), Turner (5) and Mazouch. White and Burrell. W—White, 16-1. L—Turner, 8-5. 2B—GB—Halle Post, Mazouch; SH—Reeves, Burrell, Mermis, Fraley, Ruffin. HR—GB—Bryant; SH—Sommer.

PANTHER BATTING—Braelyn Turner 1.000 (1-1) Kya Behr .505 (49-97, 40 R, 44 RBI);  DeShawnna Bryant .488 (42-86; 27 R, 39 RBI); Camdyn Post .424 (36-85; 34 R, 16 RBI);  Paige Thexton .375 (33-88, 42 R, 20 RBI);  Kamryn Koelsch .384 (28-73; 8 R, 18 RBI); Rylee Prilling .320 (8-25); Denver Ringo .300 (21-70; 20 R, 8 RBI); Katherine Mazouch .296 (16-54; 14 R, 10 RBI); Chayla Prendergast .280 (7-25); Alyssa McCauley .258 (16-62; 13 R, 17 RBI); Halle Post .235 (12-51; 35 R, 16 RBI); Ava Kaiser .222 (4-18)

PANTHER PITCHING—Prendergast 11-2 (4.91 ERA); Turner 8-5 (3.88 ERA); Thexton 2-0 (0.91 ERA); McCauley 1-0 (3.22 ERA)