Diamond dandy: Garden's Befort top spring sports athlete
By BRETT MARSHALL
There was no small measure of anticipation, expectation, and anxiety when the 2013 softball season got under way for the Garden City High School Lady Buffaloes.
New coach, several new starters and one new pitcher.
With Trina Moquett moving over from Garden City Community College to guide the Lady Buffs, the other biggest item was to see if sophomore Dusti Befort, who had pitched primarily on the GCHS junior varsity her freshman season, could make the jump to the varsity level.
That question was answered early and then solidified as the season progressed.
Befort simply was spectacular in helping the Lady Buffs to a 17-4 season record in which they reached the Class 6A regional finals and were one game away from advancing to the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
For her performance, Befort has been named The Telegram's 2013 Baseball/Softball/Spring Sports Player of the Year.
The sophomore right-hander finished her first varsity season with a sparkling 10-2 record, including a 5-4 win over Great Bend that allowed the Buffs to share the Western Athletic Conference title with the Lady Panthers.
Befort threw a team-high 78.3 innings and struckout 118 batters, a 1.50 average per inning, while giving up just 25 walks. Her earned-run-average was 1.96.
"She's certainly deserving as she had an outstanding season," said Moquett of Befort. "She matured as the season progressed."
Befort, perhaps a bit modestly, said she felt like she made good progress in her first year of varsity pitching.
"I was able to hit my spots better, but I'm still working on things," Befort said. "My change-up was probably my go-to pitch. I could throw them off with the off-speed pitch and it was my third strike pitch most of the time."
Befort knows she can improve and is working this summer on her curveball and riser.
"I don't have those down just yet, but I'm working to learn how to throw those better," said Befort, who also said her fastball would occasionally rise.
In her only two losses of the season — to Goddard Eisenhower (4-0) and to Derby in the 6A regional title game (14-6), Befort had little support in the field from her teammates.
Mysteriously, the Lady Buffs' defense disappeared in those two losses in which Befort struckout 13 Derby batters, 9 Eisenhower batters and gave up only 3 earned runs in the two setbacks.
In the 5-4 victory over Great Bend, she finished with six strikeouts and just one walk.
In her 10 wins, Befort had more than 10 strikeouts in four of those games, including a season-high 15 against Liberal. Her season low was five and that came when she pitched both games of a doubleheader sweep against Hays, striking out nine in the other game. In three other games, she recorded nine K's.
When not on the mound, Befort found herself at first base, a position she enjoys and also said she made improvements during the season.
"I got a lot better at scooping the ball," Befort said. "I could spot the ball better coming to me. I love playing first base."
At the plate, Befort was no slouch either.
She finished the season with a .530 batting average, collecting 35 hits in 66 at-bats. She had five home runs and five doubles while driving in 34 runs, second best on the team. She only had six strikeouts at the plate.
"I felt like I did a better job of getting on base, but I know I can still improve," Befort said. "I pull the ball too much and we're working on taking that outside pitch to right field. That will make me a better hitter."