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Underdog Panthers ready for 5A state softball
gb softy3
The 2024 Great Bend softball 5A state qualifiers feature front row—Halle Post, Ava Kaiser, Paige Thexton, Kamryn Koelsch, Camdyn Post, Alyssa McCauley; back row—Braelyn Turner, Rylee Prilling, Denver Ringo, Adele Smith, Chayla Prendergast, DeShawnna Bryant, Katherine Mazouch, Kya Behr, Josie Blevins. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune


WICHITA — Great Bend's softball team will kick off its 5A state journey at 7 a.m. Thursday headed to Wichita State for the first time in nine years. 

Three Panther freshmen helped deliver the Panthers past Newton 4-3 and Goddard High 5-3 in last week's regional. Freshman Camdyn Post hit the game-winning double against Newton. Freshman Kya Behr slugged 2-run and 3-run homers. Freshman pitcher Chayla Prendergast (11-2, 4.22 ERA) earned victories in both games.

"The girls played two tremendous games last week," said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. "We've got great leadership. They've invested a lot of time. Our younger girls have played softball for years. Our home crowd last week was amazing. We thank everyone who support us."

No. 8 seeded Great Bend (22-6) will challenge No. 1 seed Spring Hill (26-2) at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Broncos feature pitcher Jaleigh White (15-1, 0.46 ERA). White has 113 strikeouts in 901/3 innings. She's yielded six earned runs. White is batting .533 with 48 RBIs.

"I've had great luck with coaches who provide scouting information," Minton said. "Spring Hill has a great pitcher, but we've seen great pitchers here-and-there. Top to bottom in 5A, it's tough. It doesn't matter where you are in the bracket."

Braelyn Turner (8-4, 3.32 ERA) will likely earn the start with Prendergast ready in relief.

"We've got two great pitchers in the mix," Minton said. "With one game Thursday, we've got wiggle room as far as pitching to get through seven innings."

Great Bend proved it could win tight low-scoring games at the regional. State softball tournaments typically feature low-scoring games.

The Panthers' offense is ignited by Kya Behr .521 (49-94); DeShawnna Bryant .493 (41-83); Camdyn Post .426 (35-82);  Paige Thexton .392 (33-84) and  Kamryn Koelsch .385 (27-70).

"I like having an 'underdog' mentality," Minton said. "We might catch some people off guard not knowing what Great Bend is all about. We have nothing to lose. Our girls will play their hearts out. We've played a strong schedule."


11 a.m.—Spring Hill 26-2 vs. Great Bend 22-6

1 p.m.—St. Thomas Aquinas 23-4 vs. KC Piper 20-5 

3 p.m.—Maize South 25-3 vs. Topeka Seaman 22-6

5 p.m.—Wichita Carroll 24-4 vs. Basehor-Linwood 20-5

PANTHER BATTING—Braelyn Turner 1.000 (1-1) Kya Behr .521 (49-94; 40 R, 44 RBI);  DeShawnna Bryant .493 (41-83; 26 R, 37 RBI); Camdyn Post .426 (35-82; 34 R, 16 RBI);  Paige Thexton .392 (33-84, 42 R, 20 RBI);  Kamryn Koelsch .385 (27-70; 7 R, 18 RBI); Rylee Prilling .320 (8-25); Denver Ringo .298 (20-67; 20 R, 8 RBI); Katherine Mazouch .294 (15-51; 13 R, 9 RBI); Chayla Prendergast .280 (7-25); Halle Post .250 (12-48; 34 R, 16 RBI); Alyssa McCauley .237 (14-59; 12 R, 16 RBI); Ava Kaiser .222 (4-18)

PANTHER PITCHING—Prendergast 11-2 (4.22 ERA); Turner 8-4 (3.32 ERA); Thexton 2-0 (0.91 ERA); McCauley 1-0 (3.22 ERA)

SPRING HILL BATTING—Jaleigh White .533 (48 RBI); Nora Burrell .465 (33 RBI); Halle McFarland .464 (26 RBI); Marissa January .432 (12 HR, 32 RBI); Olivia Fraley .388 (26 RBI); Ellie Ruffin .385 (16 RBI); Blaire Sommer .378 (16 RBI); Emma Reeves .355 (17 RBI); Campbell Mermis .328 (21 RBI)

SPRING HILL PITCHING—Jaleigh White, 15-1 (0.46 ERA); Jayden Kistner, 5-0 (4.53 ERA); Kaylyn Gilliland, 6-1 (4.75 ERA)