Garden City softball sweeps Dodge City

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Angie Serrano rounds third base and scores during a game last week at Tangeman Sports Complex. The Buffaloes swept Dodge City Tuesday at home.

GCHS clinches at least share of WAC title

Early on this spring season, the Garden City Buffs’ softball team divided a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader at Hays.

That split has been the lone setback this spring. When rival Dodge City arrived Tuesday in Garden City, it provided a showdown between the top two teams in the WAC, both entering at 11-1 overall and only one league setback.

The Buffs, as has been somewhat of their character trait this season, rallied not once, but twice en route to 5-1 and 7-4 victories over the Red Demons, and in the process secured no worse than a tie for the WAC championship. They have two WAC games remaining – one on Thursday (May 6) at Dodge and then next week at home against Hays. One win will secure an outright WAC crown.

“They’re just cool, calm and collected,” GCHS Head Coach Trina Moquett said of her team. “I can’t say that I’m always stress-free, but they seemingly find a way to continue to do special things. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – they are a special group.”

In both games, the Buffs yielded a first-inning run to the Demons before making their trademark rallies.

In Game 1, Dodge scored on a leadoff walk by Garden pitcher Brie Manwarren. A stolen base, a wild pitch and a groundout brought Taryn Coon home. It wasn’t until the Buffs’ third inning at-bat that they broke through against Dodge ace Raemie Lopp.

Jesykah Foster laced a lead-off single to left, and advanced to second on a Dodge fielding error. She stole third base and came home on Manwarren’s double to deep centerfield to tie the game. It stayed that way until the Buffs’ sixth when they finally made the big breakthrough.

After Mya Cruz drew an opening hit-by-pitch, Angel Serrano singled to center. A passed ball put runners on second and third, but Cruz was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice by Kamryn Foster. Angie Serrano walked to load the bases before two passed balls allowed Angel Serrano and Kamryn Foster to score, giving the Buffs a 3-1 lead. Then, with two outs, Manwarren, who seemingly likes being in the big-play moment, delivered a two-run double to right center, giving the Buffs a 5-1 lead.

In Dodge’s top of the seventh, the Demons got runners to second and third with no outs. A fielder’s choice turned into the lead runner being tagged out. Manwarren then recorded a strikeout and took a weak ground ball and underhanded it to Gisselle Gutierrez for the out to end the game.

Getting the first game win was huge, according to Moquett.

“What it does is it takes the big pressure off you,” she said. “We could then get ready for the second game, knowing we got a big win in the first game.”

Game 2 was not a lot different, with Dodge scoring in the first inning and adding a second run in the fourth. The Buffs tied the game in their half of the fourth with two runs, coming on home run blasts by seniors Rilee McGraw and Cruz.

As happened in earlier season games, the Buffs trailed once again when Dodge came up with a single run in the top of the fifth only to set the table for a five-run rally by Moquett’s steady-as-a-rock team.

Angel Serrano got things started with a single and came home on Abby Parr’s triple. Manwarren walked then went to second. McGraw came up big again with a 2-run single. McGraw and Gutierrez came home on two Dodge City errors to finish things off and the Buffs headed out with a 7-3 lead. The Demons would score once in the seventh, but couldn’t get enough offense going against Manwarren, who won her second game of the day and 11th of the season.

The sophomore right-hander had 10 strikeouts in game one and 12 in the nightcap.

“Brie got into several situations, but like the rest of the team, she bent a little but didn’t break,” Moquett said. “These girls have a special chemistry. They just believe as long as the game is still on, they have a chance to score runs and come out with a win.”

In Game 1, Manwarren went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs; Jesykah Foster was 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored; Angel Serrano was 2-for-3 with a run scored. In suffering the loss, Lopp issued one walk and struck out nine on 106 pitches. Manwarren threw 106 pitches in the opener and 126 in the second win while issuing just two walks with the dozen strikeouts.

In the second victory, McGraw was 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and Cruz had the second big home run for the winning Buffs.

Now 13-1 overall and 9-1 in the WAC, the Lady Buffs prepare for a big end of the week schedule. In addition to Thursday’s WAC battle at Dodge, the Buffs move on to Emporia for the Classic on Friday and Saturday. The Buffs will play Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel at 4 p.m. Friday and then Blue Valley-Southwest at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Game 1

Dodge City 100 000 0 -- 1 3 1

Garden City 001 004 x -- 5 10 0

DC—Lopp (L) and Miller; GC—Manwarren (W 10-0) and Anjie Serrano. 2B—GC (Manwarren 2). LOB—Dodge City 5, Garden City 8.

Game 2

Dodge City 100 110 1 -- 4 6 1

Garden City 000 250 x -- 7 7 0

DC—Lenz (L), Lopp (5) and Miller; GC—Manwarren (W, 11-0) and Anjie Serrano. 2B—DC (Landa). 3B—GC (Parr). HR—Dodge City (Coon), Garden City (McGraw, Cruz). LOB—Dodge City 8, Garden City 4.