Pounding Pratt: Lady Busters open softball with sweep of Beavers
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
It did not take long for the Garden City Community College softball team to come out of hibernation when the Lady Broncbusters finally took the field on Monday after two weeks of re-scheduled game after re-scheduled game.
The Busters swept both sides of a doubleheader against the Pratt Lady Beavers to open the season at the Tangeman Sports Complex.
In the opener, the Busters fell behind 4-2 in the fifth before tying it with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and four in the sixth en route to an 8-5 comeback win. Head coach Becky Gundy's squad avoided having to come back in the second game, instead jumping out early with a seven-run first inning to cruise to an 11-2 win.
"I think the biggest thing is finally getting started," Gundy said after the games. "Anytime you can start with two wins is obviously even better, but I feel like we've been waiting around and waiting around."
They had been, suffering several cancellations or re-scheduled games before finally opening against Jayhawk Conference Division II Pratt.
"It feels great (to play a game)," sophomore third baseman Lauren Shanks said. "I know we've all been antsy to play. It sucked when our games kept getting delayed, but it's great and it was a beautiful day."
Shanks got the Busters' rally in the first game going with a double to center field in the fifth, scoring on Mattie Miller's following double. Miller scored on Danielle Aronoff's sacrifice fly two batters later to tie it at 4.
In the bottom of the sixth, Shanks' double to left field scored Brook Lovas to give the Busters a lead they would not relinquish.
"I just kept thinking line drive," said Shanks, who finished the day going 3 for 6 with three RBIs and three runs. "I tried to keep myself calm and do what I could to help my team."
Freshman Rachel Roe, who only joined the team a month ago, picked up the win in her first collegiate game, tossing a complete game. She allowed four earned runs, five hits and four walks while striking out 12.
"I was very, very nervous," the 5-foot-7 pitcher from Dunnellon, Fla., said. "But I tried to keep it composed for my team so they didn't see how nervous I was."
In the nightcap, the Busters relied on an early long ball from Emilie Laliberte to set the tone for the 11-2 rout.
Lovas led off reaching first after getting hit with a pitch — one of three times she was hit in the second game — and Jalen Espinosa reached on an error. Shanks singled in the next at bat, and then Miller doubled to left to make it 3-0 quickly in the first.
On the very next pitch, the right-handed Laliberte drove the ball to right center field and off the top of the fence for the home run and a 5-0 lead without any outs being recorded.
"It felt very good," the Granby, Quebec, Canada, native said. "It's the first one of the year."
The Busters scored two more in the bottom of the first and that was all Alex Barleen would need for the Busters, tossing a five-inning, mercy-shortened game, allowing only two runs despite walking seven.
"Alex struggled a little bit," Gundy said of her sophomore lefty. "But she never really let it hurt her. I thought she walked way more than she should, but the defense sort of stepped up behind her and didn't let it really hurt us that bad. She made the pitches she needed to in situations to get out of it."
The defense was sharp for only the second game of the season, Gundy said, twice getting out of jams with heads up defensive plays to catch the Beavers off guard, including an almost triple play.
With the Beavers threatening in the fifth with the bases loaded, a run already on the board and no one out, Peyton Jones hit a sharp ground ball to Shanks playing third base.
Shanks immediately threw home to get the force out at home, and catcher Aronoff threw to first for the double play. Meanwhile, the Beavers' Sarah Morrison, who began the play at second, was heading home for the Beavers' second run. First baseman Miller threw home and nearly got the triple play.
In the third, with the Beavers' Morrison on third and one out, Jones again grounded to Shanks. Morrison bolted home to try to score, but Shanks cut her off with a throw to home and the Busters got her out in the ensuing rundown. Jones tried to head to second during the play, but Laliberte, who was playing shortstop and had tagged Morrison out, quickly whipped around and threw a strike to get the sliding Jones out, ending the inning.
""I thought for our first games out, those are really big plays," Gundy said. "If it's mid-season, those are plays that are kind of expected, but for day one, to get those plays and almost get a triple play, that's big. I think that shows a lot of promise for the athleticism that we've got this year."
The Busters continue play on Wednesday, when they host Division II Hutchinson at 1 and 3 p.m.
Pratt 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 -- 5 5 1
Garden City 0 0 1 1 2 4 x -- 8 11 2
Woolridge and Thomas-Daw; Roe and Aronoff. W - Roe. L - Woolridge. 2Bs - Pratt, Kelly; Garden City, Aronoff, Shanks 2, Miller. 3Bs - Pratt, Copeland; Garden City, Nelson. HRs - Pratt, Jones.
Pratt 0 0 0 0 2 -- 2 3 2
Garden City 7 0 4 0 x -- 11 11 1
Garcia, Plante(4) and Thomas-Daw; Barleen and Aronoff. W - Barleen. L - Garcia. 2Bs - Garden City, Detlinger, Miller, Aronoff, Cerrato. HRs - Laliberte.