It's been a magical start to the season for the No. 7 ranked Barton Community College softball team going into Friday's 1:00 p.m. conference doubleheader hosting Pratt Community College. The defending Region VI Champions are 36-2 on the season with a 7-1 start to the conference season riding a seventeen game winning streak. Having five different players winning weekly conference awards given out by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC), at the center of all the action has been freshman Madison Didion who for the fifth time has been named the Pitcher of the Week.
In a short week for the Cougars only playing four games, Didion pitched in nine total innings recording fifteen strikeouts helping Barton to two of those four victories. Striking out eight against McPherson College on Monday, Didion was more impressive the following day against Division II No. 13 ranked Williston State College pitching a three inning perfect game striking out seven of the nine batters she faced. Ranking sixth nationally in total strikeouts with 150, the Montesano, Washington, freshman is now 19-1 on the season headed into Friday's games.
Didion's honors bring the Cougars' total of receiving weekly awards to nine as Barton has swept both the player and pitcher awards four out of the seven weeks so far. Brittany Wood, who had one of the most impressive freshman player debuts in Cougar history, joined Didion to capture the second week of honors. Barton would then earn the awards three straight weeks from week four through six as Maddison Schofield, McKenna Mauler, and Holly Posegate had tremendous weeks respectively at the plate.
Nearly impressive last week, Posegate helped nail down the other two victories matching Didion's fifteen strikeouts in thirteen innings pitched. Striking out seven in the McPherson victory, the Loveland, Colorado, sophomore took the circle the following day matching a career high eight punch outs in six innings over Williston State, limiting the Triton bats to only three hits. Now 16-1 on the season, the duo along with freshmen reserve pitchers Amanda Evans and Megan Sumonja have put the Cougar staff fourth best in the nation with 230 strikouts with a twenty-fourth best 1.96 ERA.
In addition to Didion's performance last week, Jenna Hosey nearly gave the Cougars four straight weeks of sweeping awards and the fifth Cougar being nominated for the weekly honors. Batting .500 with a .833 slugging percentage in the four games, the sophomore from Topeka had a hit in each game including her first homerun of the season in the midst of reaching base in her first four plate appearances against Williston State helping power the Cougars to the doubleheader sweep. With five stolen bases during the week, Hosey was just outside the nation's top thirty but after adding three more so far this week has jumped to twenty-seventh. Hosey, along with Salina sophomore Cadie O'Donnell whose twenty-three thefts ranks twenty-first, have helped the Cougars rank fourth in the nation with 102 stolen bases in their thirty-eight games.
Combining the pitching and speed to Head Coach Marc Benjamin's third edition of the Cougars, Barton continues to have the power element blasting a nation's sixth best forty-seven long balls. Leading the big boppers is Wood, a freshman from South Jordan, Utah, crunching a fourth best fourteen over the fence while driving in a second best sixty-six runs. Tecumseh, Kansas, freshman Jayden Gonzales also cracks the top fifty checking in at thirty-fifth with eight "Jay-dingers" while Mauler and Posegate are close behind with seven each.