For the past three weeks, the Garden City Community College softball team has had its share of strong performances.
But during that stretch, the Broncbusters had to face the likes of nationally-ranked Butler and highly-regarded Seward County and Colby.
There were sweeps at the hands of Butler and Colby, as well as Seward County (8-0, 7-2 on March 21).
So when coach Becky Gundy’s squad hosted Seward County’s Saints, the second-place team in the Jayhawk Conference West, on Sunday, a day after it was to have been played, nobody could have expected the outcome of the doubleheader.
But perhaps that didn’t include Gundy and her players.
The resulting 2-1 loss in the seventh inning of Game 1 was quickly put aside, and in the nightcap, the Busters steamrolled the Saints 11-0 in a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game at Tangeman Sports Complex.
“We’re definitely on the right track with how we’ve been playing,” Gundy said of her team, which is now 21-23 overall and 8-12 in the conference race. “None of the girls are backing down after we’ve suffered some injuries that caused us to move people around to positions that they normally have not played. They’re just going out and getting the job done.”
In the opener, the Busters committed five costly errors, three of them in the deciding seventh inning when the Saints broke a scoreless deadlock with their two runs. Gundy’s squad made a gallant run at one of the top squads in Kansas in their at-bat in the seventh.
Jessy Ortiz reached on an error and advanced to second on the throwing miscue. With two outs, Angel Jimenez doubled to center, with Ortiz scoring. The game came to an end when Ariel Denney hit a screecher to to left field that was hauled in for the final out.
The loss clouded the stellar pitching performance of Samantha Akers, who went the distance while giving up just two hits and two unearned runs. She struck out seven and walked none.
“She pitched a terrific game, and it’s just tough to see her not get a win from that,” Gundy said. “But I told her later that the fact she pitched so well and kept us in the first game, that it helped carry over some confidence to the way we played in the second game.”
Gundy was also a bit frustrated by the fact that the Busters stranded nine runners in the opening-game loss, and out-hit Seward 5-2.
“We’re getting closer to getting those big hits when we’ve got runners in scoring position,” Gundy said.
The Busters took that confidence-builder squarely into the start of Game 2, wasting little time in jumping on Seward starter Jordan Cordrey, knocking her around for 11 runs and 10 hits in the first four innings.
Devin Hernandez score on a groundball error by Denney, and then Bailee Muxlow-Volk doubled to push Denney home. Megan Jankiewicz singled to score Muxlow-Volk to put the Busters on top 3-0.
Another three-run uprising took place in the second, with Denney driving in Carly Ochoa, and later Jimenez came home on a Muxlow-Volk single. Denney scored on an incoming throw from the outfield, making it 6-0.
The Busters’ starting pitcher, Marissa Montiel, developed some tightness in her arm in the first inning, giving way to Denney, who came in and tossed five scoreless innings, giving up just four hits, striking out five and walking just one.
“Ariel did a great job coming in for Marissa,” Gundy said. “I think everybody just stepped up and did a great job.”
If the six runs felt safe, the Busters didn’t sit on the lead.
In their half of the fourth, they exploded for six runs, with the outburst starting on a Denney single to center, scoring pinch-runner Victoria Bermea. Moments later, with the bases loaded, Jankiewicz was hit by a pitch to score Denney. Alyssa Dilley then singled to drive in a pair of runs. Another single by Hernandez brought Dilley home for the final run.
Denney retired the Saints in the top of the fifth, and what must be one of Gundy’s top wins in recent seasons was in the books.
“Our kids are getting some confidence and trusting what we’ve been working with them on,” Gundy said. “I think our pitchers have done a good job all season, and now we’re doing a better job in our at-bats and the defense is improving.”
Muxlow-Volk led the 11-hit attack in the second-game rollover with three hits and three RBIs while Denney, Jankiewicz and Dilley each had two hits.
Next up for the Busters will be a road doubleheader at Dodge City. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.