Following a disappointing 4-2 loss in Wednesday’s first game at Cougar Field, the Barton Community College softball team took out some frustration with a 9-0 shutout in six innings to earn the split with Garden City Community College. The battle for third place left both teams where they began on the day with the Lady Cougars moving to 11-11 in conference play and 30-16 overall while Garden City left town at 11-11 and 25-24 on the season. In reaching the thirty win mark, the 2015 version of the Lady Cougars are the first to reach the mark since the 2005 squad went 30-36 and have secured the best season since the 40-19 2002 squad. Wednesday’s action was the first of eight games Barton will play in the upcoming four days as the Lady Cougars have road doubleheaders at Tabor College junior varsity on Thursday and Kansas State University Club Team in Manhattan on Saturday before returning home for a doubleheader on Sunday against the junior varsity of Kansas Wesleyan University.
Barb Nigon kept the Lady Cougars off-balance for most of game one while getting the help of three double plays. Sidney Coleman gave the Busters a second inning lead blasting her fifth home run of the season with a two-run shot to left center. One inning later Maddie Miller just missed a home run banging a line drive off the top of the left center fence with an RBI single staking Garden City out to a 3-0 lead.
Brianna Ward‘s leadoff single in the fourth collected Barton’s first hit of the game as the Lady Cougar bats came alive the second time through the order. Erica Harper followed with a base hit and one out later, Holly Posegate and Jenna Hosey came through with RBI singles drawing Barton to within one.
The next inning, Bailey Hensley drove a double to right center setting up a potential tying run but after a Ward groundout the job was left to Harper. Collecting her second hit of the game, Harper’s single was knocked down deep in the hole by shortstop Brooke Lovas who then jumped to her feet to throw out Hensley at the plate to thwart the Barton threat.
Trying to keep Garden City within reach, the Lady Cougars committed the first of two seventh inning errors allowing Lovas to reach to open the inning. Two strikeouts by Barton pitcher Taylor Bugner, another error allowed Lovas to score pushing the lead out to two.
Barton looked to rally in the home half of the final inning as Braydee Bakovich led off with a walk but the third Garden City double play wipe the paths clean adding a groundout to end the game.
Bugner took the loss dropping to 12-7 on the season as the freshman from Garden Plain scattered seven hits, three earned runs, and strikeouts against only one walk while the Busters’ Nigon improved to 11-7 also allowing seven hits, walking one, and striking out three.
The Lady Cougars’ seven hits was scattered throughout the lineup with Harper’s 2-for-3 effort the lone multi-hit game.
Game two seemed to be in control for the Garden City as Rachel Roe benefitted from the Busters’ fourth double play of the day getting a first inning twin killing then sent three straight Lady Cougars down on strikes in the second inning.
The third inning brought the top of the lineup around for the second time and Hensley two out double to right center broke through and Ward followed with an RBI single giving Barton a one run lead.
Barton got back to work in the next inning getting one-out singles by Posegate and Hosey before a pinch hit walk by Abby Tipton loaded the bases. One out later McKenna Mauler shot a line drive down the right field line for a stand up triple giving Barton a four run lead. The lead grew by one as Hensley followed with a single for her second hit of the game.
With Posegate shutting down Garden City for only four hits including beginning two 1-5-3 double plays, the Cougars would score in their third straight inning as Harper led off the fifth with a left field home run for her then nineteenth of the season.
A hit by pitch would get Mauler on board to lead off the sixth but was erased by a Hensley fielder’s choice. A Buster infield error ensued allowing Ward to reach and the reality of a shortened game came to play as Harper stepped into the box. Facing a 3-1 count, Harper connected sending a line drive over the right field fence to not only record her second of the game, but move into a first place tie in the nation with twenty long balls.
Posegate’s four hitter improved the freshman to 14-7 on the season getting the aid of eleven Lady Cougar hits. Harper’s 3-for-4 effort led the way while leadoff Hensley was 2-for-4 and Posegate helped her cause but going 2-for-3.