It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks for the Garden City Community College softball team.
First, the Broncbusters lost starting catcher Taylore Hartman to an injury a week ago, forcing the reliable catcher out of the lineup for the last six games.
Then, on Wednesday facing Pratt on the road, starting shortstop Erica Vessels suffered an injury and missed the nightcap of what turned into a doubleheader split between the Busters and the Beavers.
Garden captured the opening game 5-3, utilizing a 14-hit attack and getting a strong pitching performance from Samantha Akers, only to come up a run short in the nightcap, falling 7-6, with the would-be tying run stranded on first base.
Head coach Becky Gundy said she wasn’t unhappy with her team, saying they fought their way back from a five-run deficit in the second game to very nearly come up with a sweep.
“We’ve come up on a string of back luck (injuries), so I don’t feel bad about Game 2,” Gundy said afterward. “The girls fought back, and fought back and they’ve faced a lot of adversity. We’ve got people playing positions that they’re not used to, so it’s just been a tough adjustment for everybody.”
In the opening victory, the Busters took a 1-0 lead in the first on an Ariel Denney single to right that scored Vessels, who went 2 for 5 before suffering her injury.
Pratt knotted the score with a single run in the third and added another run in the fourth. When GCCC’s Bailee Muxlow-Volk singled to center in the fifth, scoring Carly Ochoa, the game was back square at 2-all. Devin Hernandez’ single to left brought Muxlow-Volk home with the go-ahead run. Alyssa Dilley made it 4-2 when she doubled home Hannah Adams.
Pratt would slice the lead to one in the bottom of the fifth before Ochoa provided an insurance run in the sixth when the singled to center with Vessels scoring.
The 14-hit attack, which also saw 11 runners stranded, was led by six different hitters with two hits each — Vessels, Ochoa, Denney, Adams, Hernandez and Dilley.
“We did a good job of getting hits, but we couldn’t get more with runners in scoring position,” Gundy said.
But Akers threw well for Gundy, giving up just five hits and three earned runs in going the distance, walking three and striking out seven.
“We got a good job from Sam (Akers),” Gundy said.
In the finale, the teams traded runs in the first, with the Busters getting theirs on a sacrifice fly by Angel Jimenez, scoring Hernandez. Pratt went up with a single tally in the second before both teams scored once in their halves of the fifth. Garden’s came on Jimenez’ second sacrifice fly that scored Ochoa.
The Beavers (11-37, 2-20), though, erupted for five runs in the sixth off the Busters Marissa Montiel to take command 7-2. But the Busters didn’t go quietly in their final at-bat.
Denny’s based-loaded clearing double made it 7-5 and Muxlow-Volk singled in Denney to make it 7-6. But a groundout stranded Muxlow-Volk to end the game.
“Pratt’s got a good team despite what their record shows,” Gundy said. “They’ve got some good players and their pitchers do a good job of keeping them in the game. But I’m so proud of the fight the girls showed in the second game. They fought to the end.”
The Busters (20-22, 7-11)will return home for a Jayhawk Conference doubleheader Saturday, with the first game scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. There is potential inclement weather which may force a postponement, Gundy said.