By BRETT MARSHALL
Garden City's Lady Buffaloes had been waiting to see how they would perform in a closely contested, low-scoring softball game.
They got their first opportunity on Friday at Tangeman Field with the Colby Lady Eagles (10-4) in Game 1 of a doubleheader, coming up with a 2-0 victory on just three hits, and then came back with a solid 6-0 triumph in Game 2, which left them unbeaten at 8-0 for the season.
The Lady Buffs struggled at the plate against Colby pitcher Kenzie Curry, and when they had an opportunity, managed to manufacture single runs in the third and sixth innings to help Kori Thornton pick up her fourth win on the mound.
"It was real important to get the first run and give us some confidence," said Thornton, who was also sharp, giving up just four hits, striking out one and walking one. "We weren't hitting and we just managed to get somebody on, move them around and get a run in."
What proved to be the winning run in that game came in the third inning, when Kennedy Brunson hit a two-out single to left. The speedster then stole both second and third bases, and then came home on Jamie St. Clair's double to right center on a ball that just deflected off the glove of centerfielder McKenna Ortner.
"We couldn't get around her," Brunson said of Curry's pitching effort. "My job is to get on, then get to second and hopefully to third. That took a lot of pressure off us."
Thornton worked her way out of two jams in the game, the first coming in the second when the Eagles loaded the bases with two singles and a walk with just one out. Thornton then got her first, and only, strikeout, and then induced Curry herself into flying out to left field to escape.
"We told the girls that we're not always going to be able to hit and so we've got to be able to manufacture runs when that happens," GCHS coach Trina Moquett said. "We were able to execute the plays and lucky to get the runs."
The Lady Buffs got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when St. Clair walked, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on Mekayla Guerrero's sacrifice fly to center.
Thornton was efficient, as she only needed 71 pitches through her complete-game win to blank the Eagles.
"I threw the curve a lot and it was working really good," Thornton said. "It felt nice and gave me more confidence. It felt good to get the shutout."
In the second game, the Lady Buffs jumped on Curry early with three runs in the first, on four hits.
Once again, Brunson started things with an infield single, stole second and raced home on Sierra Scott's RBI single to right. Scott also stole second and scored when Guerrero doubled over Ortner's head in center. Guerrero eventually wound up at third on a misplayed throw in, and then scored on Casey Curran's groundout to short.
Two more runs were tacked on in the fourth when Curran started things off with an infield single and Thornton singled to left. Haley Saldana bunted for a single, and on the play, Colby tried to throw Curran out at third. Instead, the ball sailed into left field all the way to the fence, allowing both Curran and Thornton to score.
The final Garden City run came in the sixth when Dusti Befort doubled, went to third on a groundout, and came home on Brunson's two-out single.
"Kennedy's job is to get the ball down, get her moved over," Moquett said. "Speed kills, and she's been that sparkplug. We've got a lot of confidence in her and getting her around."
Befort had another stellar effort on the mound as she finished with 12 strikeouts and no walks, but did hit one Colby batter.
"Both she (Befort) and Kori had good outings," Moquett said. "I like how the girls are playing. We just can't afford to get complacent and we need to get better. Our progress is good right now, but we can certainly have room to improve."
The Lady Buffs will have a busy upcoming week, hosting Liberal and Great Bend on Tuesday and Thursday, both at 3 p.m. and then traveling to Dodge City on Friday.
Colby 000 000 0 -- 0 4 0
Garden City 001 001 x -- 2 3 1
WP--Thornton (4-0) and Greenlee; LP--Curry and Barton. RBI--Garden City (St. Clair, Guerrero). LOB--Colby 6, Garden City 3.
Colby 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2
Garden City 300 201 x -- 6 10 2
WP--Befort (4-0) and Greenlee; LP--Curry and Barton. RBI--Garden City (Brunson, Scott, Guerrero, Curran). LOB--Colby 5, Garden City 5.