GCCC falls in Region VI tourney

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Micaela Mirabal squares up to lay down a bunt during a game earlier this season at Tangeman Sports Complex.

DODGE CITY -  The Garden City Community College softball team competed in the Region VI tourney Friday and Saturday, being eliminated after three games.  The Broncbusters picked up a win over Independence in their opener, but fell to Butler and Barton to end the GCCC season.

INDEPENDENCE

First-year Head Coach, Amy Schmeckpeper admitted that her team had some nerves going into their postseason opener on Friday. But one powerful swing flipped the script and moved the Broncbusters one step closer to a region crown.

McKayla Encinias's fourth-inning grand slam broke a 3-3 tie, Lacey Kearsley and Tara Reid combined to strike out eight, and Garden City beat Independence 8-5 in the opening round of the Region VI Tournament at Legends Park.

"The girls got the job done today," Schmeckpeper said afterwards. "It was a total team effort."

Still, it took a while for the Broncbusters to figure out Independence starter Brooke Vicory, who after being given some early insurance on Mikalle Pair's two-out RBI single in the first that gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead, cruised through the first two innings by retiring the first six Broncbusters that she faced. But Garden City solved the Rubik's cube in the third. Reid led off the frame with a double, Micaela Mirabal moved her to third with a bunt single, and Moore laced a run-scoring base hit to knot the score. That was followed by a pair of bases-loaded walks to Encinias and Chacon that put the Broncbusters up 3-1.

"We were able to string enough hits together to put runs on the board," Schmeckpeper added.

Meantime Kearsley failed to hold the lead. She struck out Parker Moore to begin the fourth but plunked Kenna Ferguson and yielded a single to Summer Strickland. Two batters later, Allison Primeaux tied the game with a bases-clearing triple.

"It wasn't perfect, but I thought Lacey and Tara worked together in the circle to close it out," Schmeckpeper explained.

And they got plenty of assistance from Encinias, who put the Broncbusters up for good in the bottom of the fourth. After Reid, Moore and Elycia Johnson all reached to load the bases, the sophomore jumped on the first offering from Vicory, annihilating a fastball over the wall in center for a four-run advantage. Kearsley followed with an RBI double, and Garden City led 8-3.

The Pirates answered with a run in the fifth and another in the seventh when Sarena Sanders homered off Reid. But the freshman hurler bounced right back, getting Pair and Moore to ground out before Ferguson popped out to Mirabal at first to end the game.

Kearsley improved to 12-9 in the circle allowing four runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings. She struck out four. Reid replaced her in the fifth and gave up one run on two hits with three punchouts while finishing 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored.

BUTLER

Almost never counts, but Garden City nearly put the rest of the nation on high alert on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was too little; too late.

Maddie Redman was absolutely dominant in the circle, striking out 15 in a complete-game gem, Madie Young collected two hits, and third-ranked Butler held on to beat Garden City 3-2 in the second round of the Region VI Tournament at Legends Field.

This was a pitcher's duel from the start. Redman limited the Broncbusters to just one hit through four, while Tara Reid gave up a pair of singles through three. But the Grizzlies finally broke through in the fifth. With two outs, Sydney Adler tripled, Young and Shayna Espy followed with RBI singles, and Butler had a 2-0 advantage.

Meantime Garden City couldn't get anything going. Carley Powley's single with two outs in the second was the only hit Amy Schmeckpeper's team could muster before Reid's knock in the fifth ended a stretch where Redman had retired nine straight batters. The Broncbusters went in order in the sixth before one swing gave them life in the seventh.

Following Elylcia Johnson's leadoff single, McKayla Encinias became just the fifth player this season to take Redman deep, mashing a 1-2 fastball over the wall in left for a two-run blast that made it a one-run game. But Garden City never got the tying run on. Lacey Kearsley grounded out to second, and Powley struck out on three pitches to end the game.

Redman allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings for Butler, which won their 41st straight game. It was their closest win over a conference opponent all season.

Reid fanning seven in six innings of work. She allowed two earned runs on six hits while tossing 104 pitches. Encinias blasted her second homer of the postseason.

BARTON

Missed chances cost Garden City an opportunity to advance on Saturday.

Madison Faylor homered and knocked in three runs, Kennedee Lara collected two hits, and Barton ended the Broncbusters' season with a 6-5 win in a Region VI Tournament elimination game at Legends Park.

And Amy Schmeckpeper's team will be kicking themselves all summer for this one.

The Broncbusters took an early 2-0 lead when McKenzie Moore scored on a wild pitch, and Tara Reid delivered an RBI groundout. But they failed to create separation, and in the top of the second, the Cougars sliced the deficit in half. Then in the third, Monet Martinez's error in center allowed the tying run to score before Barton took the lead on Teegan Krol's run-scoring single. That was followed up by Faylor's two RBI double to center, and the Cougars had a 5-2 edge.

But Encinias wasted no time in bringing Garden City back, and with two on and two out in the bottom half, the sophomore cranked her third postseason home run, a no doubt blast to center that knotted the score at 5. But after Carly Powley singled and Nya Chacon reached on an error, Micaela Mirabal grounded out, and Arianna Griego struck out to end the threat.

The score remained tied until the fifth, that's when Kearsley made a costly mistake, leaving a pitch up in the zone with two outs that Faylor hammered over the wall in center to put Barton back on top.

From there, Garden City left two more on in the bottom half and spoiled a two-out double by Kearsley in the sixth when Encinias flied out to center. Then in the seventh, with their season on the line, Reid, Powley and Chacon went down in order.

Kearsley allowed nine hits in six innings for the Broncbusters, which ended the year at 25-20. She also went 3-for-4 at the plate, Encinias knocked in three runs, and Moore finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.