by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Last Thursday, Lana Ross got her 600th softball coaching win. On Saturday, she got arguably her biggest win as head coach at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Thumped 13-2 at No. 12 ranked Johnson County, Ross’ Blue Devils bounced back with a 5-3 win that kept them right in the thick of the closest Jayhawk Conference in years – if ever.
The split kept JCCC atop the standings at 13-3 while the Blue Devils joined No. 5 Highland, Hesston and Cowley College in a four-team tie for second at 11-5 with Labette another game back at 10-6.
KCKCC (30-14) stays on the road Tuesday at Southwestern Iowa in Creston before resuming conference action Thursday at Labette.
The Blue Devils then close out regular season play next week, as hosts of Crowder College Tuesday and Cowley Thursday at Sophomore Day. All four doubleheaders are scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m.
The Blue Devils got just four hits in the 5-3 win but each one figured in the scoring as they parlayed clutch extra-base hitting by Brittney Beck and Kaylee Arnzen with a standout pitching performance by Mackenzie Pinkerton.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning, the Blue Devils went ahead on a 2-out, 3-run home run by Beck, a sophomore outfielder from Bushton.
Arnzen drew a walk and Alaina Howe singled with two out to set up the homer. KCKCC scored what proved to be the winning runs in the fifth. Hannah Redick led off the inning with a single and Devin Purcell reached second base on a throwing error on a bunt and both runners scored on an Arnzen double to center.
“I told my team it showed your true character after you have a big loss,” Ross said. “It showed tremendous effort and their true character really came through. I am very proud of them.”
Pinkerton (13-7) scattered seven hits in recording her team high 13th win. JCCC took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the third inning and then added two runs in the seventh on a leadoff double, strikeout, walk, fly ball and a single before Pinkerton induced a game-ending popup to Britney Smith.
“Pinkerton pitched very well, striking out eight,” Ross said.
The Cavaliers pounded out 14 hits in the 5-inning 13-2 opener. After taking a 2-1 lead in the second, JCCC (17-10) broke the game wide open with a 7-run third inning against Shay Grosstephen (11-5).
The Blue Devils were limited to six hits by Kerrigan Dixon (10-3), who walked one and struck out two. Grosstephen singled and doubled and drove in one run; Redick singled in the other. Britney Smith also had two hits and Purcell one. ,