Lady Busters relax, blow past Colby
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
To relieve some of the tension and anxiety that had been building up over a stretch the play had been below expectations, Garden City Community College head softball coach Becky Gundy had her players compete in an intrasquad whiffle ball game over the weekend.
Gundy said the Lady Broncbusters made many of the same mistakes they were prone to committing on the diamond. They used that as a teaching moment that something had to change for the team to progress.
"This week we started out and we really talked about taking pressure off themselves," Gundy said of her players, noting that she told them, "I'm proud of you. You guys are putting a lot of unneeded pressure on yourselves. Take it off. Let yourselves have fun. Let yourselves enjoy the game." In Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader against Colby at the Tangeman Sports Complex, Gundy saw a little bit of that tension creeping back in as the Lady Trojans chipped away at an early 7-1 lead in the sixth inning. The Trojans cut the deficit to 7-5 before the rally was over, and the Lady Busters left the field with some of that tension relieved.
"They came back in and I said, 'Guys, we've still got the lead. You guys are really, really tense. We've still got the lead. It doesn't matter how much you win by, you've just got to win,'" Gundy explained about what she told her team after the Trojans' rally. "So I think that helped them kind of relax."
The Busters seemed to do just that, keeping the Trojans off the board in the seventh for the 7-5 win.
While Gundy said it did not matter how much they win by, the second game was a much easier affair as the Busters routed the Trojans 17-1 in a five-inning blowout, improving the Lady Busters to 14-15 and 5-3 in the Jayhawk Conference. The Trojans fall to 6-25 and 1-7.
"It was really fun," sophomore catcher Danielle Aronoff, who went 5 for 7 with three runs and three RBIs combined, said. "We've had a lot of struggles this season as far as offense, defense, battling and everything.
"We've worked on our hitting all year. I guess it finally just pieced together. We've had a lot of long meetings, a lot of crying, a lot of yelling, a lot of screaming, and it just seemed to come together today. We really wanted to come together as a team, and for our coaches who have really been behind us all year."
The Busters belted out 24 hits to score the 24 runs, taking advantage of six Trojans' errors.
Lauren Shanks hit a home run, Brooke Lovas garnered a triple, and the Busters had 10 doubles, including three by Aronoff.
Meanwhile, starter for both games, Rachel Roe, kept the Trojans at bay, allowing four runs in the sixth inning of the first game, but only two for the other 11 innings pitched, striking out 14 as she picked up both wins.
"We all admit it, hopefully her backs not too sore since we've been riding it all season," Aronoff said of her right-handed battery mate, "but a lot of our girls have stepped up in really big ways. It's us stringing all the little things together that have really helped us out a lot."
The Busters have strung together six wins in seven games after losing seven straight.
"I think hopefully this is a good omen," Gundy said. "It's a good time to turn your season around, so hopefully we can continue on this."
The Busters have a huge test ahead of them with a twinbill against NJCAA top-ranked Butler in El Dorado Saturday, and then a doubleheader against Western Nebraska at home on Sunday.
"This weekend is going to be rough and we know that," Gundy said. "We've got four really tough games, but I think it's also a time we can really see what we're made of."
The Lady Grizzlies are 19-4 after splitting with Seward County on Wednesday. Prior to that, the Grizzlies other losses were in February. They sit atop the KJCCC Standings at 5-1.
"We've got to realize that no matter what they're ranked, it's just a number," Gundy said. "They could have a bad day. We could have a great day. We play well, we've got a chance.
"If we play like we did (Wednesday), I don't care who we're playing, I want to be on our side because I think we've got a great chance."
The games are scheduled for 3 and 5 p.m. in El Dorado, while Sunday's games against Western will be at noon and 2 p.m. at the Tangeman Sports Complex.
Colby 100 004 0 -- 5 6 2
Garden City 123 100 x -- 7 10 5
Elmgreen, Roth(4) and Trussel. Roe and Aronoff. W--Roe. L--Elmgreen. 2B--Colby, Riffel, Churchwell; Garden City, Aronoff, Laliberte, Dentlinger. 3B--Garden City, Lovas. HR--Garden City, Shanks.
Colby 001 00 -- 1 7 4
Garden City 712 7x -- 17 14 2
Roth, Elmgreen(2), Swisher(2) and Trussel. Roe and Aronoff. W--Roe. L--Roth. 2B--Garden City, Aronoff 2, Barleen, Coleman, Laliberte, Miller, Dentlinger.