GCHS softball holds off Hays rally for win

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Abby Parr connects with a Hays pitch during a trip to the plate Thursday at Tangeman Sports Complex.

Garden City High School’s softball team had survived a near-doubleheader loss on Tuesday night against Thomas More Prep-Marian of Hays when they learned that last-place Liberal had upset Dodge City, 1-0, that provided the Buffs with the Western Athletic Conference title.

Up by two games over Dodge City with just one league game left on Thursday at home against Hays High, the Buffs still had plenty on the line in their regular-season finale at Tangeman Sports Complex.

Sitting with a 16-3 won-loss record going into the game with the Indians, who had dealt the Buffs one of their three setbacks early in the season in Hays, the Buffs had their ears and eyes open to find the results of Wichita Northwest’s doubleheader with Goddard High and Goddard Eisenhower.

And perhaps to nobody’s surprise who has followed this edition of the Buffs, the roller-coaster game was nearly a replica of many of the recent two week Cardiac Kids performances.

In the end, however, the Buffs prevailed 10-8 to finish as WAC Champions with a 10-2 league mark. Hays finishes the regular season at 12-8 overall and 6-6 in the WAC.

Northwest entered their Thursday twin bill with a 16-2 record, but fell in both games to finish at 16-4 and the Buffs’ 17-3 secured the No. 4 overall seed in the West Division of Class 6A, thus ensuring them a home field in next week’s regional tournament.

That four-team bracket will consist of Garden City tentatively scheduled to meet Wichita West/Wichita South co-op team, while Northwest will face Junction City. Official pairings and game times will be announced Saturday, but the two semifinal games will be played at Tangeman Sports Complex on Wednesday, May 19, at 1 and 3 p.m. with the championship game at approximately 5 p.m.

GCHS Coach Trina Moquett said the game simply was like so many she and her squad has experienced this season that falling behind was simply like ‘old hat.’

“We’ve been behind early in a lot of games and came back to win,” Moquett said. “It seems to be the theme of the year for us. I’m not sure exactly what I feel these days, other than to say that these girls never give up, they keep playing and they’ve been winning a lot of games.”

In a normal season in which very few games are decided in the last inning or last at-bat, it has become routine for this year’s edition of GCHS softball. And now Moquett doesn’t quite have the same butterflies as she might have in previous years.

“I guess the only way to say it is that I’m more comfortable with uncomfortable situations,” Moquett said with a laugh. “We got down 3-0 in the first and I just don’t have that same anxiety.”

Hays scored the three runs on 3 hits, a walk and an error that allowed 2 unearned runs to come home. The Buffs got on the board in the bottom of the first when Brie Manwarren singled to left. They apparently took control of the game with a 6-run second inning to go up 7-3.

In their biggest inning of the game, Mya Cruz singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Angel Serrano’s RBI single. Jesykah Foster followed with a single and Abby Parr walked. Manwarren singled again and was followed by run-scoring singles by Rilee McGraw and Gisselle Gutierrez.

The Buffs scored once in the third when Angel Serrano came on by stealing and Hays committing two errors. The Indians scored once in the fourth to make it 8-4 Garden. The Buffs’ defense, which has not been sharp lately, committed 3 errors, while Manwarren yielded 3 hits and that allowed Hays to score 4 runs and knot the score at 8.

“Apparently, we just like to keep things interesting,” Moquett said. “Normally, I’d be saying that’s a bad thing, but then we come right back and score two runs. That’s this team’s personality and character.”

In that deciding fifth frame, Yesenia Castro singled and Moquett pinch-ran Kamryn Foster. She went to second on a passed ball and scored on Angel Serrano’s RBI single along with an error by Hays. Jesykah Foster’s sacrifice fly scored Angel Serrano for the final run of the game.

The nail-biting wasn’t over, though, as Hays got a walk, a stolen base and a groundout to put a runner on third base with one out. But Manwarren secured the victory with two infield pop-ups to end the game.

Manwarren, who has been the pitching force for the Buffs all season, secured her 15th win against just two losses. She had 7 strikeouts and issued 3 walks and gave up just two earned runs.

“Apparently, we don’t like to do anything easy,” Moquett said. “The best thing about them is that they’re excited about what they’ve accomplished so far. They have kept winning…how can you be upset with 17-3?”

The Buffs finished with 13 hits and committed four fielding errors. Hays had 9 hits and had 5 miscues.

Angel Serrano went 2-for-3 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs, Manwarren was 2-for-4 with a run scored and 3 RBIs, Jesykah Foster was 2-for-3 with a run scored and one RBI, McGraw went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI while Gutierrez was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Hays High 300 140 0 -- 8 9 5

Garden City 161 020 x -- 10 13 4

HHS—Thomas (L) and Fagan; GC—Manwarren (W, 15-2) and Anj. Serrano. 2B—GC (J. Foster).LOB—Hays 8, Garden City 4.