Lady Buffs' pitchers sit down 33 in sweep of Dodge City
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
Rarely in the first month of the spring softball season has the Garden City Lady Buffaloes been able to play what would be a normal twice-a-week doubleheader with a two or three day break in between.
So when the schedule was rearranged and forced the Lady Buffs into back-to-back days of playing Great Bend and Dodge City, head coach Trina Moquett knew her young and inexperienced team would have to draw on some much needed extra focus to handle the critical four-game, two-day battle.
Friday, the Lady Buffs were able to survive what had become a second-game lull, at least by Moquett's definition, winning the opening game 10-0 in a six-inning shortened game by the mercy rule, and then scored the game-winning two runs in the bottom of the sixth to slip past Dodge City by that 2-0 margin and leave Tangeman Sports Complex on a high note.
The Lady Buffs were able to get stellar pitching from junior Dusti Befort in the opener, as she tossed a no-hitter through six innings while striking out 17, coming within one of the school mark set by Katie Ford in 2005. And it was freshman hurler Abbie Dart, who bounced back from a rocky outing on Thursday at Great Bend to finish with a 16-strikeout, 2-walk performance to shut down the Lady Demons in the finale.
"Once you let the other team get momentum, it could backfire on you," said Befort, who also came up with the second RBI single in the 2-0 victory. "I thought my rise ball and fastball were working the best today. I was able to throw in some curves that helped out as well."
The Lady Buffs were just coming off an emotionally-draining doubleheader split at Great Bend on Thursday against the other Western Athletic Conference power.
"I think the girls were a little tired, it was late yesterday and we know what's at stake," Moquett said. "We've got a chance to win the WAC."
Befort was dominant in limiting just two runners to reach base — a hit batter in the fifth and on a throwing error in the sixth — but she got out of both innings with strikeouts. "Now, we're just hoping to get a little rest over the weekend and get ready for Monday (doubleheader at Goddard Eisenhower)," Befort said. "We're just trying to make sure never to get down, to keep our confidence up, and don't watch called third strikes. Be aggressive at the plate."
The second game victory was hard-earned as the Lady Demons, who self-inflicted themselves in the opener with seven errors, all of a sudden were making spectacular defensive plays all over the diamond, keeping the Lady Buffs off the board.
But when it came time to deliver, the Lady Buffs went to their two seniors — Jamie St. Clair who earned a one-out walk, stole second and then raced home on a single to center by her senior teammate, Kennedy Brunson, to break the scoreless deadlock.
"It was just a fastball down the middle, and since I'm a slapper, I had to wait on it a little to hit it the other way," said the left-handed hitting Brunson. "We didn't get much defensive work in the first game, and for some reason, we just didn't come out ready to play in the second. I think we got tired a little. The games yesterday were really hard, and that's when it (letdown) seems to hit us."
Befort followed with another single that scored Brunson from second, giving the Lady Buffs just the slightest of breathing space.
Dart, who yielded just two hits, then mowed down the final three batters, an easy roller to Brunson at second and then two strikeouts of Dodge batters who went down swinging.
The 33 combined strikeouts certainly made an impression on Moquett.
"You know Dodge is in a rebuilding process, and they're young, but they always give you their best fight," Moquett said. "Anytime you let a team like that stick around, you get a little nervous. We've got to develop that killer attitude a little earlier. I really thought Dusti made some pitches that she hadn't made earlier and is getting stronger, and Abbie really showed me a lot with the way she came out and pitched today."
In the opener, the Lady Buffs managed nine hits and all 10 of their runs were unearned thanks to the miscue-plagued Lady Demons' defense.
St. Clair, Brunson and Befort, the 1-2-3 hitters in the lineup, provided much of the offensive fireworks, with two hits each. St. Clair and Brunson each scored twice and St. Clair, Befort and Shai Cartmill had RBIs. Haley Saldana, Jenna Greenlee and Shea Nordby also each scored twice.
The Lady Buffs are now 10-3 overall and 5-1 in the WAC. Dodge City falls to 3-9 and 0-6.
Notes: Goddard Eisenhower, the Lady Buffs' Monday opponent (4 p.m. first pitch) is 5-7, having just lost on Friday to Maize South, 4-1 and 6-5. Great Bend and Hays met on Friday in a rescheduled WAC doubleheader, with Great Bend sweeping the Lady Indians, 4-1 and 14-3. Great Bend is finished with its WAC schedule at 7-1 while the Lady Buffs still must face Hays on May 13 at home.
Dodge City 000 000 -- 0 0 7
Garden City 030 142 -- 10 9 1
Two outs when winning run scored.
Tieben and Stecklein; Befort and Saldana. WP--Befort; LP--Tieben. 2B--GC (Befort, Saldana). RBI--GC (St. Clair, Befort, Cartmill). LOB--Dodge City 2, Garden City 10.
Dodge City 000 000 0 -- 0 2 0
Garden City 000 002 x -- 2 5 0
Tieben and Stecklein; Dart and Nordby. WP--Dart; LP--Tieben. RBI--GC (Brunson, Befort). LOB--Dodge City 4, Garden City 3.