The Barton Community College softball team took a pair of losses in Saturday's home opener to Neosho County Community, dropping the first 2-0 in eight innings before a late collapse led to a 9-4 loss to conclude the afternoon's action at Cougar Field.
The Cougars' next action is a four-day road swing south to Texas and Oklahoma before returning home Tuesday, March 2, hosting Central Christian College. Barton begins its highway burning with a Texas two-step on Wednesday at Cisco followed by a swing to Vernon on Thursday before starting its move back home with Friday and Saturday contests at Western Oklahoma State University.
Game 1 Recap
The season opener for both teams was controlled by each of the commanders in the circle, Ashlee Lucero for Barton and Olivia Cummings for the Panthers. The duo combined for nineteen strikeouts and six hits through the regulation seven innings.
A one-out single and error setup the Panthers to strike first, and following an executed double steal, Kristen Birdwell drove in the winning run with a grounder up the middle. The Panthers put across an insurance run on the ensuing batter Mallory Gazaway's fielder's choice.
Barton stranded ten baserunners in the contest, two coming in the bottom of the eighth as Cummings rang up her ninth strikeout to end the game.
Lucero finished with a career second-best eleven strikeouts, holding the Panthers to just two hits through regulation, four total on the game.
Game 2 Recap
The Panthers only had six hits in the second half of the twin bill but four came on the big fly variety pushing six of their nine runs across the plate. Just two of the runs were unearned as Barton helped aid the run production committing seven errors.
Two of Neosho County's runs came on solo shots in the first inning, one coming from Birdwell as the Arkansas City native added two more later on to drive in five runs in the contest.
Barton got the equalizer in the home half of the third on Madison Faylor's first collegiate dinger, a launched one-out 3-1 pitch to drive in Haile Stoneking who had reached on a hit by pitch.
Three Barton errors set up Neosho's County's go ahead fifth inning, allowing one run to score before Birdwell drove in three more off a 3-2 pitch.
Misplays plagued the Cougars again in the sixth allowing the first two Panthers aboard. Following a ground out, Neosho County added two more in the inning with Birdwell's third home run of the day capping the scoring.
Kayla Beers' five innings of work took game two's loss allowing just two unearned on the Panthers' six runs with Elizabeth Horsch working the final two innings without allowing an earned run.