By RAMA PEROO/Cowley College
Although they have lost just once since March 1, the Cowley College softball team was looking to knock off a ranked opponent to show just how far they have come since a challenging start to the season. Monday at home against Butler Community College was just the kind of game the Lady Tigers were looking for as they knocked off the Lady Grizzlies 6-3.
Butler, ranked 16th in the latest NJCAA Division I poll, entered Monday’s game atop the Jayhawk West standings with an overall record of 28-8. While, the Lady Tigers entered the game as winners of 17 of its past 18 contests.
Facing a formidable Butler lineup, Lady Tiger freshman Saige Smith (11-5) struck out the side in the top of the first inning and set the tone for the day. Smith would go on to strike out seven and allowed only three hits in the complete game win.
“Saige really had great control of her pitches through the first game,” Cowley head coach Jenny Hoyt said, “Aaliyah Ahmed does a great job behind the plate of keeping Saige calm and working with her.”
Butler countered on the mound with sophomore Allyson Montgomery, who entered the game with a record of 15-2. After striking out the first two batters she faced, Montgomery hung a pitch over the plate that was crushed over the leftfield wall by Kyla Bonnarens for a solo home run.
The home run by Bonnarens was her ninth of the season.
Smith struck out the first two batters in the top of the second, making it five strikeouts in a row, before Arkansas City native Cady Dickey cranked one out of the park to tie the game at 1-1. The homer for Dickey was her 10th of the season.
Cowley loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the second inning, but Montgomery struck out Maci Cole to strand the bases loaded.
Montgomery would work around two more walks in the bottom of the third inning as the Tigers stranded two more baserunners.
The Lady Tigers finally cashed in during the bottom of the fourth as Montgomery walked two more batters before allowing a single to Cole to load the bases with one out. Shayne Roberts followed with a two-run ground-rule double to put Cowley in front 3-1. Bonnarens would drive in her second run of the game by hitting a sacrifice fly before McKinzi Sowles singled in Roberts with the fourth run of the inning.
Butler got a run back in the top of the fifth on a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Dickey.
However, Cowley was not done yet as they got to Butler reliever Ariel Matula for a run-scoring double by Laramie Neff to increase its lead to 6-2.
Butler got back-to-back doubles in the top of the seventh to pull within 6-3 and had a runner at second with only one out when Dickey stepped to the plate. Smith got Dickey to line into a game-ending double play.
“Our defense executed really well and Maci (Cole) had a great game defensively with a couple double plays,” Hoyt said. “It was great competition. Butler is a strong team and our hitters needed to see strong pitching and our pitchers needed to see strong hitters. In the end we wanted to challenge our players to play tough competition and see where we can strive for improvements. I felt like overall we had a great win.”
The second game of the doubleheader was postponed due to lightning and rain.
The Lady Tigers, 22-12 on the season, will play a doubleheader at Cloud County Thursday at 2 p.m. The T-Birds are 12-16 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
Score by inning: R H E
Butler 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 – 3 3 0
Cowley 1 0 0 4 1 0 x – 6 5 1