A stiff wind at Hutchinson's Fun Valley Sports Complex was the least of the Barton Community College softball team's troubles late Wednesday afternoon as the Cougar bats were anchored down and the Blue Dragons of Hutchinson Community College handing out a pair of 7-1 and 8-1 defeats.
As the conference season begins to wind down, perhaps the pressure of vying for the conference crown and receiving votes in the latest NJCAA poll can subside as the losses drop second place Barton to 16-4 and 22-11 overall. Hutchinson meanwhile, can breathe a little easier in fighting for the East's third spot in lieu of an upcoming series with fourth place Independence by improving to 10-10 and 15-15 on the year.
Weather permitting, next on Barton's schedule is Saturday's 1:00 p.m. hosting Butler Community College at Cougar Field as the Cougars now trail the 14th ranked Grizzlies (15-1, 23-5) by three games in the loss column. Game decision or postponement will most likely be determined on Thursday and announced at BartonSports.com and on social media outlets.
Game One Recap
Hutchinson picked up solo runs in the first and second inning on Tia Kohl, plating the first on a two-out single scoring a leadoff double before a misplayed fielder's choice allowed the second frame run to cross despite Kohl striking out three in the inning.
A pivotal fourth inning doomed the Cougars as the Blue Dragons put a five spot on the board increasing their lead out 7-1.
Following a one-out single, the Cougars committed one of their four errors in the contest to put another runner aboard with an "Ephesus pitch" aka change-up hit-by-pitch loading up the bases. The Blue Dragons plated two on the next pitch via a single then sent two more across the dish from a two-out double and single.
Hutchinson returned the favor of helping Barton in the ensuing fifth as the Cougars loaded the bases behind singles from Jade Phillips and Alexis Sharples followed by a Blue Dragon error. With no outs and a golden opportunity to cut into the six run deficit, a dropped hard hit line drive by Nasadiya Salazar signified the unlucky break day for the Cougars with Hutchinson turning a double play as the Barton runners froze on contact. The Cougars' lone run would score on the play but that's all Barton could put on the board as a walk was followed by a ground out to end the inning.
Barton could muster just six hits with nine left on base as Hutchinson's Megan Davis kept the Cougars off-balance all game in striking out six.
Kohl took the hard luck loss with just three unearned runs while striking out four in dropping to 10-4 on the season.
Game Two Recap
A Hutchinson error allowing Salazar to reach helping set up Barton's lone run of game two, with Betsy Parmley providing a clutch two-out single up the middle driving in her 41st run of the year moving into a tie for tops in Region VI.
Just four other Barton hits would follow in the remaining six innings as the Region's top hitting ball club struggled accumulating a combined eleven hits while leaving nineteen total stranded on the base paths.
A three-run home run in the home half of the first gave Hutchinson all the runs they needed but a pair of third inning leadoff walks trotting home on a two-out home run building the lead out to 6-1 put the struggling Cougars in a hole.
The Blue Dragons again put more runs on the board with two-outs, stringing consecutive doubles followed by a single in putting Barton on the brink of being run-ruled in the fifth inning.
Emma Horsch dropped to 6-4 with the loss with Karsyn Smith working the final two innings of game one before getting the final two outs of the sixth to strand the potential run-rule clincher at second base.
Salazar led the Cougars in the opener with two hits followed by Maggie Schuetz collecting a pair in the nightcap. Joining Parmley as a Region leader, Hailey Pop's third inning double was the 15th of the year for the sophomore but became one of eight left on base as Madison Lewellen struck out one of her eight in the contest to end the two-out threat.