Mercy, Mercy! Lady Busters lose, then win in run-rule games with Barton.
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
A change in attitude was the difference between getting run-ruled in Garden City Community College softball team's first game of Wednesday's conference doubleheader against Barton, and a run-rule triumph in the nightcap.
At least, that is what the Lady Broncbusters were able to discern from the huge difference between a 12-1 loss to the Lady Cougars and a 15-7 win the closing game, giving the Lady Busters a 17-20 overall record, and 6-6 in the KJCCC.
"We just weren't focused for the first game," Busters assistant coach Christina Mueller said after the twin bill. "We went out and booted some balls. I don't think (starting pitcher) Rachel (Roe) was ready to pitch — just didn't go out with the intensity that we should for every single game."
Roe was knocked around for 10 runs, seven earned, in just four innings as she walked five and gave up seven hits. The Busters also committed three errors.
"I think we just got too comfortable, and thought it would be too easy for us, which shouldn't happen," center fielder Brooke Lovas, reknowned for her prowess roaming the outfield, committed one of the three errors in the first game. "There's no excuse."
The Busters' lone run came in the second when Liberty Nelson doubled to left center and Chassidy Cerrato singled in the next at bat to drive in Nelson.
Roe was hung with the loss, and the Cougars broke their four-game conference losing streak.
To try to snap the Busters out of their funk, head coach Becky Gundy tapped sophomore Alex Barleen, who just began to pitch earlier this season, to try to lead the Busters to the bounce-back win.
She did, holding the Cougars scoreless through four innings as the Busters built a 6-0 lead.
"Alex did great," Mueller said. "She went in there and she did exactly what we told her to, 'Keep the ball low, let the defense play,' and she did exactly that.
"She lasted six innings and pitched her butt off."
Barleen was just shy of six innings, tossing 5 2/3 before being relieved by Roe for an out. However, Barleen struck out three, and allowed no earned runs — the Busters committed four errors behind her — to get the win.
"I just told myself, 'Just trust what I've been taught, and trust my defense to do the rest, and it'll come together," Barleen said of going in to pitch the second game when Roe, who has been the team's workhorse, struggled in the opener.
Barleen came into the game with just 12 1/3 innings pitched, sporting a 4.54 ERA with 22 walks to just seven strikeouts.
On the flip side, Roe had 107 2/3 innings pitched with a 3.51 ERA.
Barleen noted the contrasting styles — Roe throws much harder — and that Roe is a right-hander, while Barleen is a southpaw — may help Barleen when she's in the circle as opposing hitters try to adjust.
"A lot of batters are used to seeing the ball come from the right side," Barleen explained, "so it's a lot harder to see it off the left side, so I think that'll help keep them off balance."
The Cougars did mount a comeback in the fifth and sixth innings, cutting the deficit to 9-7, but a six-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth by the Busters put the eight-run rule into effect, ending the game.
"I think our intensity and our attitude (was the difference)," Mueller said. "I think they were more disciplined at the plate than they were in Game 1."
Liberty Nelson led the way at the plate in Game 2, driving in three runs with three doubles.
Lovas, Jalen Espinoza, who replaced Lovas due to injury in the fifth inning of Game 2, Barleen and Cerrato all had a pair of RBIs, as well.
The Cougars are now 18-12 and 3-7.
The Busters travel to Colby on Saturday and Sunday for a tournament, where they will face three Colorado colleges (Otero, Trinidad and Lamar), and McCook, Neb.
They will take on Otero at 2 p.m. and Trinidad at 4 p.m. Saturday, then McCook at 1 p.m. and Lamar at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Barton County 241 05 -- 12 7 0
Garden City 010 00 -- 1 7 3
Osborne and Smith. Roe, Elliott(5) and Aronoff. W--Osborne. L--Roe. 2B--Barton, Davies, Grizzard; Garden City, Lovas 2, Miller, Nelson. HR--Barton, Bollig 2.
Barton County 000 034 -- 7 8 1
Garden City 024 036 -- 15 16 4
Monhollon, Osborne(3) and Smith. Barleen, Roe(6) and Aronoff. W--Barleen. L--Monhollon. 2B--Barton, Davies, Grizzard; Garden City, Aronoff, Coleman, Laliberte, Nelson 3, Cerrato. HR--Barton, Bollig.