Pittsburg High baseball coach Keith Matlock shared close ties with the opponents of the first two doubleheaders this season, being an alum of Chanute and the former head coach of the Girard baseball program.
Now, Matlock and the Purple Dragons play a doubleheader 4:30 p.m. today against Columbus at Al Ortolani Field on the campus of Pittsburg State.
Matlock pitched two seasons for the Gorillas (1999-2000) and he still owns school records for career ERA (2.59) and season ERA (1.57, 1999). He also ranks fifth in career walk ratio (2.37).
Pittsburg owns a 3-5 overall and 1-5 mark in the Southeast Kansas League. The Dragons are 0-4 against ‘C’ schools with sweeps by Chanute and Coffeyville but have a 2-0 record against Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League opponents with a doubleheader sweep of Girard at JayCee Ballpark.
Young players like sophomores Dante Richardson and Drake Markley have shown flashes of their potential and have complemented seniors Spencer Bernhardt, Tanner Ellis, Anthony McNeely, Todd Keller and Nick Vacca but errors and bad innings have cost Pittsburg in several games.
Over at the PSU Softball Complex, the Pittsburg softball team will play its own twinbill against Columbus.
The Dragons struggled out of the gates with a 1-7 record, including 0-6 last week against Blue Valley Northwest, Fort Scott (three losses) and Spring Hill.
However, on Tuesday, Pittsburg snapped out of its funk with a doubleheader sweep of Coffeyville, 16-0 and 18-1, to improve to 3-7.
In the first game, junior pitcher Mercedes Vogel tossed a no-hitter, the defense committed only a single error behind Vogel over eight innings and the Dragon attack belted out 34 runs on 22 hits against the Golden Tornado.
“Mercedes pitched very relaxed,” Pittsburg head coach Mary Packard said. “She struck out six and her teammates’ defense was able to make the routine plays for her. She was very excited about pitching a no-hitter. It is her first. We are all excited for her.
“It’s no secret that we have struggled a bit with errors and a full lineup of batters. We needed a confidence builder. We had a tough six games last week, facing Blue Valley Northwest, Fort Scott three times and Spring Hill. The girls have been doing positive things on the field and on the bases all along. Positive attitudes and team work have made the season exciting. I think we have turned a corner for the second half of our season.”
Colgan will host today a baseball varsity/JV doubleheader against Webb City and a softball doubleheader against Liberal, both Missouri opponents.
The baseball team enters on a three-game winning streak (a doubleheader sweep of Baxter Springs plus a 3-2 win over Independence on Tuesday) after starting its season 0-3 with losses against Nevada and Frontenac.
Page 2 of 2 - The softball team comes into tonight with a 2-4 overall record, both victories coming in dramatic walk-off fashion. Katelyn Flood hit a walk-off homer last Friday against Baxter Springs and Sarah Hughes delivered a pinch-hit walk-off two-run single in extra innings against Independence on Tuesday, ending a 15-14 wild one at Cheryl Stice Field.
Pitt State will host the 24th annual Jock’s Nitch/PSU Gorilla Relays today with field events starting at 3 p.m., running events at 3:30 p.m.
“We are excited to be able to have some outstanding high school athletes compete on our campus,” Pitt State head track coach Russ Jewett said in a media release. “It’s great to be able to showcase what we think is one of the best NCAA Division II facilities in the country.”
Pittsburg, Frontenac and Southeast will provide some of the 1,000 high school athletes to compete in the meet.
The Pittsburg tennis squad takes its 16-0 mark into Parsons today for a tournament featuring Southeast Kansas League schools Parsons, Independence, Fort Scott and Coffeyville.
The Northeast Vikings host baseball and softball doubleheaders today against Chetopa of the Three Rivers League.
Northeast baseball owns a 4-4 overall record and 4-2 mark in the TRL. The Vikings swept Oswego last Thursday, 24-11 and 12-9.
Northeast softball will have its hands full with a state qualifier from last year and the Hornets are led by senior pitcher and Labette Community College signee Chelsea LaPee.
Southeast baseball will play a varsity/JV doubleheader in Lamar, Mo.