GREAT BEND – For a softball team that finished last season 9-39, the McPherson College Bulldogs’ turnaround was nothing short of remarkable.
The Bulldogs not only improved, but they qualified for the KCAC postseason tournament as the No. 7 seed. After being edged by No. 2 seed Kansas Wesleyan 3-2 on Thursday — the Coyotes have since moved on to the championship game — the Bulldogs stunned No. 3 Friends 2-1 in eight innings in Friday’s loser’s bracket. But the season finally ended when they were defeated by regular-season champion Ottawa, 8-2.
Mac thus finishes the year with a 26-25 record as third-year coach Ashley Spencer engineered one of the best turnarounds in recent KCAC memory.
• Mac 2, Friends 1 — The Falcons were ushered out of the tournament in two straight games after being the KCAC leader until the final week of the regular season.
Kortney Jones’s RBI single scored Jessica Jones as the Bulldogs walked it off in the bottom of the eighth.
Friends scored its lone run off Mac ace Christie Betker in the first inning and needed only to get the Bulldogs out in the seventh to move on. But a double by Katie Holmes scored Ali Smith with the tying run.
Betker pitched a four-hitter over the eight innings as she established herself as one of the top pitchers in the conference this year. She walked three and fanned five.
Holmes, Chelsea Conrad and Judith Salazar all had doubles for Mac.
• Ottawa 8, Mac 2 — The Braves jumped on the Bulldogs early, sprinting to a 5-0 lead. The Bulldogs avoided the shutout with two runs in the seventh.
McPherson High grad Azaria Romero, in her final game, had two hits as did Holmes. Sydney Lang took the loss, while Kylee Martin threw well in relief.
With so many standouts returning next year, the Bulldogs are expected to be a force in the KCAC.