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Indians, Great Bend could meet up in 5A regional





The first trip to Great Bend for the Hays High School softball team was anything but pleasant. The team had just come off a doubleheader sweep at Larned the night before and found out the hard way playing the Panthers with anything but a fresh arm isn't a good way to go.

Great Bend gave the Indians too much to handle, beating them 4-1 and 14-3 on May 2, the only time Hays High has been swept this season. But having had more than a week of rest since their season finale against Garden City, the Indians are looking forward to a second go at the Panthers.

"We didn't play well last time we were in Great Bend. So hopefully we can get it together and take advantage of the opportunity to have another shot maybe at Great Bend and just play better ball," Hays High coach Abby Maska said.

"Great Bend is going to be tough if we do match up with them at some point on Wednesday. We know they are on their home field and they are a pretty veteran squad and they are competitive."

If WAC champion Great Bend (16-4) and Hays High (16-4) do meet up again, it will be in their Class 5A regional championship game on Wednesday in Great Bend. For this to happen, the Indians, a three seed, will first have to defeat sixth-seeded Goddard-Eisenhower (10-10), while two-seed Great Bend will matchup with seven-seed Liberal (0-18) in their semifinal contest.

All games will be played Wednesday, with Hays High-Eisenhower to start at 3 p.m., Great Bend-Liberal to follow at 4:45 p.m. The regional championship is set to begin at approximately 6:30 p.m.

"Us being matched up with Great Bend is going to be really great. We didn't play our best games against them and we were coming off a doubleheader the night before, which didn't help," Hays High junior pitcher Hannah Hearld said.

"The underclassmen are excited because they want to go to state. And the upperclassmen don't want this to end, especially the seniors. So I think we all have this same mindset of we are going there and we have one job, and that is to get to state. We can't look past Goddard-Eisenhower. We have to win that game first. That's how I'm going into it."

The Indians will be trying to get back to the state tournament after missing out on it last season. They boast an entirely sophomore infield that doesn't have much experience in this sort of situation, and will be relying heavily on Hearld's arm all night.

Hearld led the team to the state tournament in 2012 but missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

"Hopefully Hannah will be a little bit fresher having had a week since our last doubleheader. Hopefully she has a lot of gas in the tank and will lead us through a tough regional," Maska said. "But now's the time we should be playing our best ball and hopefully we are our most focused. Every game is your last, so if we can go into it with that mentality hopefully we can put a nice little run together."