GCCC softball splits DH, baseball routs Panhandle

4/17/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

The last time the Garden City Community College softball team faced Seward County on March 12, the Lady Saints rolled to run-rule wins of 15-5 and 15-2, extending a streak of what ended up being seven straight losses for the Lady Broncbusters.

It was as bad a stretch for the Lady Busters as they had all season.

Since then, the Busters ended their skid and had been winning much more consistently. However, Wednesday's matchup in Liberal against that same Lady Saints squad that is just ahead of the Busters in the Jayhawk Conference standings would be a measuring stick to see just how far the Busters have come.

When the two teams left the diamond, the result was clear — they had come pretty far.

Head coach Becky Gundy's squad won the first game 8-5 behind Lauren Shanks' three hits and Liberty Nelson's two-run home run.

"Obviously, we played much better than the first time we saw them," Gundy said of the second-place Lady Saints. "We did a much better job of coming out ready to play early."

Even though the Lady Busters dropped the second game 4-3 as the Lady Saints scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to steal the win, the Busters had still proven they were a different team than a month ago.

"I thought both games today, we were much, much better at focusing on balls in our zone," Gundy said. "We just did a much better job of not chasing balls out of the zone, which really killed us the first time around I feel like."

Through two innings in the opener, the Busters and Saints were tied at one. And in the top of the third, the Busters got two quick outs sandwiched around a Mattie Miller walk. But Shanks drilled one of three singles she had in the game to score Miller, giving the Lady Busters a 2-1 lead.

In the next at bat, Nelson blasted a full-count home run to center for a 4-1 lead.

The Saints cut the deficit to 4-2 before Miller, Emilie Laliberte and Shanks led off the fifth inning with three straight singles and Nelson reached on an error as all four scored to give the Busters a commanding lead.

Starter Rachel Roe was able to hold onto the big lead to pick up the complete game win, striking out two and allowing two earned runs.

In the nightcap, the Lady Saints took a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning, and then held a 3-1 lead after four. But the Busters were able to draw even with two runs in the fifth on Danielle Aronoff's two-run double.

However, the Lady Saints scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth to split the twin bill.

Roe picked up the loss after relieving starter Alex Barleen after three innings.

Barleen struck out one and allowed three runs, two earned. Roe allowed just the one run in three innings.

"I think, to me, the biggest thing about beating them on the road is that most likely they're who we will face in the first round of the (Region VI) tournament," Gundy said.

After the split, the Saints sit comfortably in second place in the Jayhawk at 39-10 and 8-4, three games behind first-place Butler. The Busters look to be cemented in third place at 19-23 and 7-7, two games behind the Saints and three games ahead of fourth-place Barton (18-17, 3-9).

The Busters have only one conference series remaining, that against Butler on Wednesday at home.

"We're starting to see more kids put it together at the same time," Gundy said about her team seemingly playing well at the right time heading into the region tournament on May 3-4 in Wichita.

The Region VI tournament pairs the second and third seeds and the fourth and fifth seeds against each other in the first round on May 3, with the winner of the third- and fourth-seed game playing the top-seeded team in the day's nightcap.

"I feel like our momentum is definitely heading into the right direction," Gundy said.

Before the Busters play Butler, they will travel to Lamar at noon Monday and then to KJCCC Division II foe Dodge City at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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Game 1

Garden City 013 040 0 -- 8 11 4

Seward County 101 110 1 -- 5 10 3

Roe and Aronoff. Hopkins and Oakden. W--Roe. L--Hopkins. 2B--Garden City, Aronoff; Seward County, Ewell, Allen. 3B--Seward County, Ewell. HR--Garden City, Nelson; Seward County, Orr.

Game 2

Garden City 000 120 0 -- 3 4 2

Seward County 200 101 x -- 4 10 1

Barleen, Roe(4) and Aronoff. Craker and Oakden. W--Craker. L--Roe. 2B--Garden City, Aronoff, Laliberte; Seward County, Sitter, Ewell 2, Vogelaar.

Baseball

The Garden City Community College baseball team used a nine-run fifth inning to rout the Oklahoma State Panhandle University junior varsity team 20-3 in seven innings on Wednesday in Goodwell, Okla.

The Broncbusters pounded out six hits, walked three times and were hit by a pitch three times in the fifth, en route to 18 hits and the 17-run blowout.

"We swung it well," head coach Chris Finnegan said in a telephone interview after the game. "People can look at it as it's a JV team, do what you're supposed to do, and that's what we did."

Rocky Desantis and Dalton Cook had eight of those hits — four each — and Cook was just a home run away from the cycle, picking up two singles, a double and triple, while driving in four and scoring three times.

Desantis used three singles and a double to pick up two RBIs and score three times.

"We actually faced a few decent arms," Finnegan said of the Aggies. "We were fortunate they elevated pitches and we stayed in the gaps of the field."

The Busters jumped out early, scoring once in the first, four times in the second and once in the fourth for a 6-1 lead before the fifth inning explosion. The Busters added three more in the sixth and two in the seventh to finish out the contest.

The Aggies scored single runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings for their scoring.

Madison Spencer pitched three innings to pick up the win, allowing one run and striking out five. Brad Spires also tossed three innings and gave up one run while striking out five. Anthony Kaasch threw the final inning, giving up the one run on no hits.

"I just thought overall it was good," Finnegan said of the Busters getting the non-conference win to move to 28-18 overall before entering their final conference series of the season against Dodge City, which begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Williams Stadium.

"I'm hoping for a great series like we always have against Dodge," Finnegan said. "We get their best every year just like they get our best."

The Conqs, who are tied for fourth place in the Jayhawk Conference West at 13-11, will enter the four-game set on Friday and Saturday just two games behind third-place Garden City (17-11), which has played four more conference games. The Conqs still have four games against first place Hutchinson (17-7), which will close out both team's seasons the following weekend.

The Busters also are only percentage points behind Butler, which is 15-9 heading into a weekend series at Pratt.

Finnegan said it's still too early to look at standings to see where the Busters might fall at the end of the year.

"The standings, to us, don't mean anything," he said. "The only time the standings mean anything is at the end."

However, the Busters could go a long way in ensuring a top-three spot in the final standings with a good showing against the upstart Conqs.

"They're probably the best they've ever been," Finnegan said. "We have to be our best this weekend to win at all, that's how good they are."

Friday's doubleheader begins at 3 p.m., and Saturday's first pitch is at 1 p.m.

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Garden City 140 193 2 — 20 18 1

OPSU 010 001 1 -- 3 3 3

Spencer, Spires(4), Kaasch(7) and Zipper. Home pitchers unknown. W--Spencer.

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