Panthers to host Allen in best of three series

JOHN GIFFIN

Sports editor

For the first time since 2011, the Neosho County Community College softball team will host a first round Region VI Div. II series.

The No. 5 seed Panthers (19-7 Region VI, 23-19 overall) will host the No. 10 seed Red Devils (8-18, 14-27) in Chanute starting Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the Region VI Div. II, District D playoffs.

In the regular season double-header against Allen in Chanute, the rival schools split. Neosho won game one 2-1 and Allen won game two 11-3.

“I think if we show up and swing it and play D, I think we’ll be all right,” Panther Head Softball Coach Kim Alexander said. “I think it’s a tough game. I don’t think it will be anyone that we look past. Through the year, they’ve gotten stronger, but if we come and do things right I think we’ll be fine.”

Not only will Neosho be hosting the first round Saturday, but will finally get to celebrate sophomore night and feature Breast Cancer Awareness Day originally scheduled for a double-header Saturday against Kansas City Kansas Community College that was moved to Friday afternoon at Humboldt because of weather.

“It’s absolutely nice to not have to get on the vans and travel and play on somebody else’s field,” Alexander said. “We should have good support in the community and the coaches and the athletes here.”

The winner of the three-game-series will travel to Hummer Sports Park in Topeka on the south field at 10 a.m. on May 2.

Neosho finished the regular season fifth in the Region VI Div. II standings. If the Panthers make it past Allen, the winner of Murray State, Okla. and NorthArk, Ark. would be the first match up for the Panthers at Hummer.

Neither out of state school plays in a conference and was invited to the Region VI playoffs by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. The winner of the first round match up in Tishimingo, Okla., Saturday will represent the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

There are two No. 3 seeds in this year’s tournament. Johnson County is also a No. 3 seed and playing in the District E bracket. The winners of the District D and E brackets will play each other for the Region VI DII championship. Both teams in the Region VI championship game will earn a spot in the NJCAA Div. II national tournament at Traceway Park in Clinton, Miss. May 13-16.

Even though a lot of the power in Jayhawk Conference East is in the E bracket, Neosho needs to ready to play anybody, Alexander said.

“Either way it’s going to be tough,” Alexander said. “The side we are on is going to be tough. If you’re on the other side it’s going to be tough. It’s really who shows up to play that day.”

“Even if you are at the very bottom, Brown Mackie is still pulling out wins over Hutch,” Assistant Coach Samantha Allen said. “The first round is scary. It’s not a given by any means.”

With more than a week off between the last double-header against KCK, Neosho is trying to emulate game competition and work on game situations this week in practice.

“I would have loved to pick up a game this week,” Alexander said. “We did try, but at the same time, some of our girls can get a little more healthy.”

The double-header on Saturday begins at 2 p.m. If necessary, game three will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Panthers’ staff is hoping for a good crowd for the first round playoff.

“We’ll have some coneys and some cookies and we’ll be raffling a basket to see if anyone can win a basket,” Alexander said. “Baseball is doing its Relay for Life, so there’s going to be a lot of action going on at the college.”

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