By BRETT MARSHALL
HOLCOMB — It was Senior Night for the Holcomb softball team.
It was the final regular season games as well, already having locked up a No. 1 seed in the Class 3A sub-state in Larned.
Longtime Hi-Plains League rival Lakin was in town for what would be their final league encounter, with Holcomb moving on to the Great West Athletic Conference in the fall.
Toss in some typical and untypical Kansas spring weather and the teams didn't disappoint the fans at Sonnie Baird Park on Monday as the Lady Longhorns rode the pitching arm of Lori Harshbarger to a 2-1 victory in the opener. Lakin came back in the nightcap to notch a 6-5 victory to earn a split.
The first game was suspended 30 minutes because of wind that brought in dust conditions preventing play from continuing in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"Once we came back out, all I tried to do was throw strikes and give the defense a chance to win the game," Harshbarger said.
It worked as she retired the Lady Broncs in order in the seventh to notch her 18th win.
Lakin had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Amy Dunn singled, went to second on a fielder's choice and scored on Megan Armstrong's single to left center.
Holcomb finally cracked the scoring column against Lakin's Jodie Jennings with a run in the fifth. Holcomb's defense aided the score with a couple of errors with the Broncs getting just one hit. Holcomb scored its winning run in the sixth on a single by McCashlen Mohler, an infield single by Amy Stegman and a throwing error by Lakin.
"It was a little aggravating because we had played so well," Dunn said. "But we came back and put together a really good second game and that feels good."
In Game 2, Taylor Frederiksen singled and scored on an RBI single by Dunn in the first. Lakin added another run in the third on a Jennings double and a Dunn RBI single.
Holcomb bounced back and scored one run apiece in the fourth and fifth. The see-saw continued as Lakin regained the lead with two runs in the sixth when Megan Armstrong and Wendy Waechter scored on a single by Jennings and a Holcomb fielding error.
The Longhorns didn't go away, responding with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, with Harshbarger getting an RBI double.
Dunn, who a year ago came within one home run of tying the state season record in that category ripped a first-ball pitch from Harshbarger over the right field fence to put the Broncs back up 6-4 in the seventh.
"I'm sure she didn't intend to get the ball there," Dunn said of the home run pitch. "I just tried to meet it and hit it hard."
Harshbarger said she threw the pitch on the inside portion of the plate and that she didn't really think it was that bad of a pitch.
"With Amy, you just can't make a mistake," Harshbarger said. "She's just a good hitter. But it was horrible feeling when I watched it. It wasn't the way I wanted the season to end here at home."
Ironically, Holcomb scored one more in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying and potential winning run on second and first when Harshbarger stepped to the plate with two outs. Jennings' second pitch to her counterpart was hammered but Lakin shortstop Taylor Frederiksen snagged the liner to end the game.
"This was a great positive way for us to end the season," Jennings said. "We have the ability, we've just been making too many mistakes to be consistent. But we know if we don't make errors, we can play good softball."
Lakin and Thomas More Prep-Marian will play in the first round of sub-state as the No. 4 and 5 seeds at Larned with the winner moving on to meet Holcomb, the top seed.
Holcomb 2, Lakin 1
Lakin 000 100 0 -- 1 5 3
Holcomb 000 011 x -- 2 6 2
Jennings and Dunn; Harshbarger and Burns. W — Harshbarger (18-1). L — Jennings (9-10).
Lakin 6, Holcomb 5
Lakin 101 002 2 -- 6 14 6
Holcomb 000 112 1 -- 5 8 4
Jennings and Dunn; Harshbarger and Burns. W — Jennings (10-10). L — Harshbarger (18-2). 2B — Lakin, Jennings; Holcomb, Harshbarger, Wilkerson. 3B — Lakin, Frederiksen. HR — Lakin, Dunn.