Samantha Akers was dominant for the Garden City Broncbusters softball team Friday afternoon in a run-rule shortened 10-0 win over visiting Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College. The day’s nightcap went the distance, but the Busters were able to hold on to an 8-7 win at Tangeman Sports Complex to complete the sweep.
The wins improve the Busters to 5-1, the program’s best start to a season since 2011. The Busters and Plainswomen meet again at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Garden City 10, Northeastern 0
After Akers hit the first batter she saw, she was overwhelming, allowing just three hits and walking none across the five-inning complete game, while striking out six.
She did not allow any extra-base hits and runners advanced to scoring position just twice, and none got to third.
“I thought Sam really, really did a good job for us,” GCCC head coach Becky Gundy. “She’s really settled in and doing everything we’ve asked.”
The biggest difference for the sophomore hurler early this year — Akers is 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA — is perhaps pitch selection, Gundy said.
“I think her command is much, much better this year than it showed last year,” Gundy said. “I challenged her over the summer to focus on four, five pitches, as opposed to last year she had a lot of pitches in her arsenal, bit I thought some weren’t very effective.”
Less is more, it seems.
Akers had plenty of run support Friday, which began when Erica Vessels homered on a 1-2 pitch to score Micaela Martinez for the 2-0 lead in the second inning. Two batters later, Bailey Brawner doubled to bring in Hannah Adams.
The Busters added a fourth in the third, before exploding for six in the fourth inning. The biggest blow came off the bat of Vessels again, as she doubled in Taylore Hartman and Martinez to make it 9-0.
Akers sat the Plainswomen down in order in the fifth, and the run-rule took effect, ending the game early.
“Erica and Mic (Martinez) had great days at the plate,” Gundy said of her 4-5 hitters. “Taylore (3-hole) is just quietly getting on base and scoring runs.”
Garden City 8, Northeastern 7
Much of Martinez’s work came in the nightcap, where she blasted two home runs, including a go-ahead home run in the third inning that put the Busters on top, 4-2.
It was a continuation of last year, in which Martinez had a knack of delivering big-time home runs in the right moments. Her second home run came just an inning later, when she turned on an 0-1 pitch to score three, and the Busters had a commanding 8-2 lead.
Brawner, starting for the first time this season, had allowed just two first-inning runs, but had settled in, before allowing five in the sixth inning, capped by Katy Ridener’s three-run blast. But she got the next batter to ground out, and besides an error behind her in the seventh, got the Plainswomen to go down in order to finish the complete game and seal the Busters’ win.
“We wanted to see her in a starting role,” Gundy said, “and I thought she was a little nervous early on, but she got into a rhythm. I should she kept her composure, even in that sixth inning.”