The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

May 25, 2012

Colgan hitting softball stride at right time

St. Mary’s-Colgan won 13 of 14 games to start the softball season, then suffered through a five-game losing streak.

But the final game of the regular season — a 7-3 victory over longtime CNC League power Girard — ignited the Panthers’ late-season success.

“We hadn’t beaten them,” Colgan coach Abby Farabi said. “After that, the girls had a new confidence instilled in them. They knew they could compete with anybody.”

The fifth-seeded Panthers (17-6) take a four-game winning streak into Friday’s Class 3A state opener against Anthony-Harper-Chaparral (17-6) in Manhattan. Game time is 5 p.m. on Field A at the Twin Oaks Complex.

George-Rock Creek, also 17-6, is seeded sixth. based on a coin flip. Ironically, the top three seeds — Hillsboro, Silver Lake and Goodland — all have 20-3 season records.

Colgan won the Class 2-1A state championship in 2010 but lost last season in the championship game of the regional tournament.

Moving up to 3A this year, the Panthers were the third seed in the regional at Southeast. They beat Galena 6-3 in the first round, Frontenac 10-9 in the semifinals to avenge two regular-season losses and undefeated Humboldt 6-3 in the championship game.

“They are still excited,” Farabi said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group of kids so excited. They really accomplished something this year.

“No one ever thought we would be any good. We were coming off a 9-12 season and we had lost the whole left side of the infield and our catcher. We only returned three starters, but they worked hard and worked well behind Morgan (Gilmore, the pitcher). I think Morgan also started trusting a little more, and we’re starting to gel right now.”

Gilmore, a senior who has signed with Labette Community College, struck out 19 batters — one short of the state record for a seven-inning game — against Humboldt in the regional final.

“When she is on, she is on,” Farabi said. “She is really coming into her own the last few games. I don’t know if she realized that this is it. I know she’s going to go on and play in college, but there is nothing like high school softball. You get to play with your friends, make memories.”

Center fielder Amanda McBride bats first in the lineup, followed by right fielder Emily Dickey, Gilmore, catcher Katie Kolarik, left fielder Sydney Beck, shortstop Abbie O’Brien, third baseman Taylor Bolinger, designated player Bridget Hughes and first baseman Jordan Fleming. Alex McCormick will play second base.

Gilmore also leads the Panthers with a .471 batting average and six home runs. Kolarik, a freshman, is next at .351, followed by Bolinger (.333), McBride (.316) and Dickey (.302). The Panthers have a .309 team batting average and .500 on-base percentage.

Kolarik played shortstop during the regular season but was moved to catcher after Katelyn Flood fractured a hand at the end of the final practice before regional. O’Brien was moved from second base to shortstop, and McCormick took over at second base.

Chaparral was the No. 2 seed in its regional. After a first-round bye, the Roadrunners beat sixth-seeded Hutchinson Trinity 11-0 in the semifinals and top-seeded and host Medicine Lodge 8-5 in the final.

The Colgan-Chaparral winner advances to the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday. The third-place game follows at noon, and the championship game is set for 1 p.m.

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