The GPS Bruisers got back on track Wednesday night at the StarPlex Field No. 3 against the St. Benedict Lady Eagles.
The Bruisers, forced into the losers bracket following Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Baylor, played an outstanding game as they bolted to a 5-0 lead in the first inning en route to a 9-3 victory.
GPS now awaits the loser of Thursday morning's game between Baylor and Pope John Paul II in the losers bracket final with the winner facing the Baylor-PJP winner in the championship game on Friday.
The Bruisers hit the ball on the nose against Baylor, but had very little to show for their effort. Against the Lady Eagles, GPS made the most of its opportunities as the Bruisers improved to 22-10 with the win.
"It was nice to have a little breathing room for a change and it was nice to put several runs on the board at one time," said GPS coach Susan Crownover.
"We didn't leave as many runners on base as last night, but I thought we were loose and relaxed as we had nothing to lose. These girls were ready to play as they didn't want this to be their last game of the season. But we capitalized when we had runners on base and that was a key," Crownover nodded.
St. Benedict got a one-out walk to Bailey Coppedge followed by a high-bouncing single to left by Paige Murin in the first inning, but GPS starter Madi Stanley responded with her first strikeout and a pop to third to halt that rally.
The Bruisers then batted around in the first, using four hits, a walk and an error to score five runs.
Bailey Davenport led off with a single and went to second on a sacrifice by Kelby Crownover. Hannah Kincer singled to put runners on the corners before Haley Smith drew a walk to load the bases.
Stanley ripped a 1-1 pitch down the left for a two-run double before Taylor Battles popped to first for the second out. Stephanie George then drove in the third and fourth runs with a double to the fence in center while George scored the fifth run when Haley Richardson's fly to right was dropped.
GPS made it 7-0 with two more runs in the second, the first on a run-scoring single by Smith and the second on another St. Benedict error.
The Lady Eagles then scored for the first time in the third when Lizzie Ryan got hit by a pitch with one out and later scored on a single by Olivia Parsels.
St. Benedict then made three more errors in the sixth, including two on the same play, as the Bruisers put their final two runs on the board.
The Lady Eagles then scored their final two runs in the seventh, but the eight-run lead was way too much to overcome.
Stanley was strong again inside the circle as she allowed one run on three hits in four innings while walking two, striking out four and hitting one.
Eighth-grader Shelby Walters pitched the final three innings and gave up the last two runs on six hits with no walks and one strikeout.
Needless to say, Stanley was feeling much better on Wednesday than she was on Tuesday when her team came up short against Baylor.
"It was so much better tonight. I've been struggling at the plate, so it was nice to get the big hit in my first at-bat. I had a lot of confidence in my teammates and they had confidence in me. I was a little worried about our team spirit after last night's loss, but everyone was upbeat and ready to play.
"I would have loved to pitch the whole game, but I have to be ready for every game and it was our plan to let Shelby get some state-tournament experience," Stanley added.
Davenport was the only GPS player with two hits and she also scored twice. Kelby Crownover, Kincer, Smith, Stanley and George all had one hit each with Stanley and George getting the two-run doubles.
Coppedge, Murin and Parsels all had two hits for the Lady Eagles.
The loss ends the season for the Lady Eagles.
ST. BENEDICT 001 000 2 -- 3 9 5
GPS 520 002 x -- 9 7 0
McClain, Sweat (2) and Parsels; Stanley, Walters (5) and Hobbs.
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)