PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Pittsburg State softball team took two games from Southwest Baptist Tuesday (Mar. 31), 2-1, 11-2.
Game one started slow for both sides at the plate with the first hit of the game coming in the bottom of the third by designated player Taylor Lambert. The bats continued to struggle for the Gorillas notching one more hit heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Lambert hit her second single of the game and after a stolen base Lambert was in scoring position. A sac bunt by Kylee Bohle placed the go ahead run on third. A few pitches later Lambert took home after a wild pitch by the Bearcats. Later that inning the Gorillas plated another run thanks to a few SBU errors. The Bearcats were able to plate one in the seventh to give the game its final score of 2-1.
Junior Taylor Compton was credited with the win for the Gorillas, moving her record on the season to 3-3. Compton went a full seven innings allowing three hits and an earned run.
The Gorillas started off game two hot at the plate. After a lead off double by Lambert and a walk by Bohle, brought up left fielder Paxtyn Hayes to drive in Lambert from second. The five hole batter catcher Madison Szymanski drove in Bohle and Hayes with a double to the wall in left center field. After one the Gorillas were up 3-0.
Pitt State continued to hit well in game two scoring six runs in the second inning. The Gorillas plated six thanks to a few errors by the Bearcats and hits from, Bohle, Kami Zimmerman and Keelah Griffith. Southwest Baptist was able to plate two in the fourth to make the game 10-2. In the Pitt State half of the fourth Szymanski launched her third long ball of the season to give the game its final score of 11-2.
Senior Madison Morris was credited with the win. Morris went the full game allowing three hits.
The Gorillas will be back for MIAA action at Fort Hays State, Friday (Apr. 2). First pitch is set for 2 p.m. (CDT)
Joplin coach Kyle Wolf faced off against longtime colleague and friend on Wednesday—Mike Watt, the legendary head coach for St. Mary’s Colgan baseball.
Wolf spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Watt on the Panthers’ coaching staff prior to taking the head coaching job at Joplin. He was a member of the Panthers’ staff for nine of Coach Watt’s 16 state titles.
The Eagles finished with the upper hand following a 10-8 win over the Panthers in the teams’ first meeting since Wolf joined Joplin.
Joplin took the initial lead with two runs in the first before Colgan put the first big inning together with a five-run top of the third. The Eagles answered right back with a crooked number of their own, regaining the lead, 6-5, after touching home four times in the bottom half of the third. Colgan tied the game up with a run in the fifth before Joplin again answered quickly in the bottom half with a two-out tally to take the 7-6 advantage. The Eagles scored three insurance runs in the sixth and held off the Panthers in the seventh to preserve the win.
“That game was exactly what I expected that game to be,” Wolf said. “We put the two runs up early, which I felt good about. I knew they were going to climb back in it with a team of their pedigree. I was proud of our guys for finding a way to score and take the lead right back. I think that was huge. I think it gave us some confidence and maybe took a little away from them.
“We have to do a better job of bringing good energy day to day. We had to battle through it just a little bit. We have to lock in from the start and stay locked in.”
After going 3-1 in the Tiger/Zebra Classic over the weekend in Oklahoma, the win over Colgan hikes Joplin’s record to 6-1 to start the season.
“We just have to keep getting better,” Wolf said. “We have to keep playing hard and we have to keep having a good mentality with our team and make sure we keep playing for one another.”
ON THE MOUND
Kirk Chandler started and earned the win after allowing eight runs, five earned, on 10 hits, a walk and five strikeouts on 104 pitches in 6 2/3 innings. Josh Harryman came in and surrendered one hit, but needed just three pitches to record the final out.
“Kirk threw pretty well aside for one pitch that he kind of left up,” Wolf said. “Other than that, their guys battled tough and put some bats on some balls. Kirk battled tough and found a way to get outs.”
Lucas McKain started and took a no-decision after allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and a strikeout in two innings. Caleb Hamilton allowed three runs, two earned, on three walks without recording an out in relief. Gianni Piccini was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs, three earned, on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Kannon Keller pitched 2/3 of a scoreless inning, striking out both batters he faced.
Joplin’s Kohl Cooper brought home the first run of the game when he doubled to right-center with one out in the bottom of the first inning to plate Bodee Carlson, who singled earlier in the frame. Cooper advanced to third on a Colgan error before coming around to score on an RBI groundout from David Fiscus to make the score 2-0.
“When you can get up early, it lets your hitters relax a little bit and frees some things up that we can do on the bases,” Wolf said. “It forces (the other team) to have to make plays. … Anytime you score first in a game, you give yourself a pretty good chance to win that game. I think that’s huge, and we need to continue to do that.”
Colgan broke through in the top of the third, scoring five runs on six hits to take a 5-2 advantage. Janko Kalan brought home Blaise Dawson and Piccini with a two-run single to right before Keller doubled home a pair of runs two batters later to give Colgan a 4-2 lead. Cooper Simmons wrapped the inning’s scoring after bringing home Keller with an RBI groundout.
Joplin wasted little time answering back, pushing across four runs in the bottom half of the third to regain the momentum.
“We came out, had a good approach and didn’t chase balls out of the zone,” Wolf said. “We gave ourselves a chance to get to first base, and if you keep the line moving, eventually, I feel like we are going to come up with a hit with a guy in scoring position. Credit to those guys for not pressing when we got down. … We found a way to get on base, we got some hits and scored some runs.”
The first three Eagle batters walked to load the bases before Alex Curry singled to right field to bring home a run. Ethan Guilford followed with an RBI groundout, with a throwing error by the Panthers allowing a second run to score on the play to tie the game at 5-5. Kyler Stokes brought home the go-ahead run later in the inning with a single to center to score Guilford.
Joplin was forced to rally again after SMC’s Kaden Vogel singled home a run with two outs in the top of the fifth to tie the game back up at 6s.
Curry beat out an infield hit to short to lead off the bottom of the fifth before being lifted for a pinch runner. Later in the inning with two outs, Stokes tripled off the wall in left field to bring home the go-ahead run.
“The thing with Alex is he is a big ol’ dude, but he surprises you with his athleticism,” Wolf said. “The diving play he had at first—that’s a pretty big guy making an athletic play. He’s stolen two bases this year. He is going to take advantage of things when they are in front of him.
“Kyler, early in the season, was pressing a little bit and was trying to do too much. I think he is finding his identity just a little bit. … Really since Saturday down in Oklahoma, he has swung the bat really well for us. I am really proud of him for making the adjustment and doing the things he needs to do at the plate to give himself success.”
The Eagles’ three-run sixth inning was highlighted by an RBI double from Cooper, a run-scoring single from Brady Mailes and a bases-loaded walk by Guilford to stake Joplin to a 10-6 lead.
Colgan scored a two-out run on a Joplin error before Vogel singled home Simmons to trim the lead to 10-8. Harryman finished the game by inducing a groundout.
IN THE BOX
Cooper led Joplin at the plate with a 3-for-3 game, including two doubles. He had a team-high three runs scored and drove in two. Curry and Stokes each had two hits, with Stokes tripling. Stokes also drove in two.
Simmons led Colgan with three hits in four at-bats, scoring once and driving in one. McKain doubled and scored a run while finishing 2-for-3 at the plate. Vogel had two hits and two RBI. Keller and Dawson doubled.
Joplin travels to Neosho for a 4:30 p.m. matchup on Thursday.
Joplin coach Kyle Wolf’s pregame meeting at home plate with the umpires and opposing team’s head coach was a memory he’ll hold onto for the rest of his life.
Standing across the plate was legendary St. Mary’s Colgan coach Mike Watt, for whom Wolf was an assistant for over 12 seasons prior to taking the head coaching job at Joplin.
On Wednesday, their teams squared off on the diamond for the first time.
“They are a good baseball team and a good baseball program,” Wolf said prior to first pitch. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Watt and what he has done for my career, obviously, but I just have a lot of respect for their program. They’re going to make us play good baseball because they are going to do things the right way. Somebody asked me if there was any extra pressure. There really isn’t because at the end of the day, we just want to play and get better. But, it is going to be weird because a lot of the signs and verbals are going to be the same and we’re going to look very similar taking (infield and outfield warmups). Success leaves clues, and they’ve had a lot of success. I try to model some of the things they do.”
“I believe it was 12 years he was with me, and Coach Wolf is a passionate, high-energy guy,” Watt said. “Not only is he a very good coach, but he is a good friend. I hated to see him leave, but for him to take another step in his career to become a head coach, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Coach Wolf spent 12 seasons in Pittsburg, Kansas, with Coach Watt in the SMC baseball program. In that time, the Panthers had incredible success, including a total of nine state championships together. When Wolf was asked what Watt has meant to him in terms of his career, the Joplin coach answered without hesitation and explained why their relationship goes beyond the game of baseball.
“First and foremost, he is a baseball mentor, but he is also a friend,” Wolf said of Watt’s impact on his life. “We did a lot of fun stuff over those 12 years. We went to a lot of state championships, but just the relationship with him not only from a baseball perspective, but just off the field, too. He is a great baseball coach and a better man.”
Since Wolf has taken over Joplin, the Eagles have been trending up as a program. In Wolf’s second season two years ago, Joplin baseball finished with a winning record for the first time in five seasons on the way to winning a district title in the process. The Eagles are also off to a 6-1 start in 2021.
“He is a baseball guy, and I hope he learned something from me,” Watt said with a smile. “But it just makes me proud to see his success. Every time Joplin plays, I make sure to look and see how they did. He was a good colleague, a good coach and a better friend. This is a special time.
“He teaches kids how to play the game the right way, but most importantly, he teaches kids how to grow up to be good young men. That is a very positive message he sends all the time.”
Of course, when you have spent as much time together as Coach Watt and Coach Wolf have, there are an endless amount of positive memories to draw back on. It is clear their time together as Panthers will always be remembered fondly.
“In the 12 years there we had nine or 10 opportunities to play for a state title, and it’s easy to look at those things,” Wolf said about what he cherishes most in his time on the SMC staff. “But just the day-to-day of being in a program with high expectations and learning the little things from Mike that he has picked up over his time.”
“This may sound a little strange, but some of the best times were when the park was empty (after a game or practice),” Watt said when asked his fondest memories of having Wolf on his staff. “We would sit there at Jaycee with the lights out and the sun going down, we would just sit and talk baseball.”
Though this is the first matchup between the Eagles and Panthers, there are plans to keep this cross-state rivalry in place for the foreseeable future.
“I have full intentions of making the trip north and playing at Jaycee Ballpark,” Wolf said. “I have a lot of memories there as well. At the end of the day, I think it is easy to look at this game and think it doesn’t make sense in a lot of peoples’ eyes. But, I know who we are going to tangle with and it’s beneficial for our kids to compete against them.”
Coach Watt had a slightly different take.
“Well, if I beat him, we probably won’t play again,” Watt said with a laugh.
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — For the third straight day, Joplin’s overall team depth was on full display.
Despite missing two key performers, Joplin took first place at Wednesday’s prep golf quadrangular at Briarbrook Golf Course.
The Eagles finished with a team score of 164, one stroke better than Carl Junction.
Joplin also won Monday’s invite at Twin Hills and Tuesday’s four-team tourney at Carthage.
“We’ve got a lot of talent,” Joplin coach Jack Pace said. “We’ve got good players. I’ve got six or seven guys who can score pretty well. I hate the fact that one of them is going to get left out. We have a lot of depth. That showed today because we were still able to win without Fielding Campbell and Ethan Sage.”
Fielding Campbell, who won Monday’s tourney, was with the JHS baseball team on Wednesday night.
After Joplin and Carl Junction, Webb City finished third in the team standings with a 175 and Carthage had a 176.
Carl Junction’s Noah Williams carded a 2-over-par 38 to claim medalist honors.
Carthage’s Britt Coy shot a 39 to earn a runner-up finish, while Joplin’s Hobbs Campbell and Harry Satterlee both carded 40 and tied for third place.
As far as other top individuals, Webb City’s Braxten Cahoon shot a 41, while Carl Junction’s Jacob Teeter and Tommy Walker and Joplin’s Kaden Parker all turned in identical scores of 42.
Joplin’s Wyatt Satterlee shot a 45 and teammate Dylan Bozarth turned in a 46. Bozarth was in the lineup in place of Sage, Coach Pace said.
Also for the Bulldogs, Zach Wrensch carded 43 and Cooper Wyrick had a 52.
Webb City’s Keegon Dill and Dylan Burlingame both shot 43, while Jager Carter had a 45, Cody Frazier shot a 46 and Carson Frazier carded 48.
Carthage’s Quinn Brewer carded 43, while Grant Fagg (46), Grant Riley (48), Owen Derryberry (48) and Tyler Phillips (49) also competed.
Local golfers will return to action at Monday’s Bird Dog Invitational at Briarbrook. The tourney begins at 8 a.m.
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