Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Being cast off is nothing new for the Garden City High School softball team; after all-no one expected them to be playing into the last week of May. But then again, no one pictured the football team getting to the state semifinals, and that didn’t stop them.
Prognostication has never been a credible skill. If it was, professional gamblers, the ones who don’t cheat; not your bookie that lives down the street, would be living larger than life. So-called psychics wouldn’t have to ask for your birthday after they charge you $39.99 for the phone call. This is why they play the games.
Trailing 6-4 late in their regional championship game against Hutchinson, all the outside critics were yelling out a collective ‘I told you so.’ That is until the Buffaloes plated four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead.
“We heard what people were saying; that we weren’t supposed to be here,” pitcher Dusti Befort said. “It feels good to prove them wrong.”
Befort finished off the Lady Salt Hawks in the top of the seventh with a little help from the girls behind her.
“There was some doubt,” Befort said. “It gets into your head. But my teammates stuck with me, and we got it done.”
The victory clinched the program’s first regional title since 2010 and a date with Topeka Washburn Rural in the first round of the 6A state tournament beginning on Thursday in Overland Park.
So what exactly are the Lady Buffs up against in round one?
The Junior Blues are 20-2 with their only losses coming to 21-0 Topeka Seaman. They’ve won eight straight games (8-2 in May) and have allowed just 10 runs total during that stretch.
Senior starting pitcher Kelsee Henry, who’s already signed to play at Emporia State, is 10-1 on the year (only loss was to Seaman) with .65 ERA. She has fanned 45 batters in her last four outings.
Then there’s catcher Jenny Metzger, who will be joining Henry at Emporia State next spring. The senior is batting .384 with 13 RBIs. Behind the dish, she’s allowed only four stolen bases all season.
So what does all this mean?
While the numbers look fancy, don’t discredit what Trina Moquett’s bunch has done all year. They’ve had their bad losses: 16-0 to Mill Valley and 9-2 to Eisenhower. But they’ve coupled that together with some nice wins, including a 6-0 victory over conference-rival Hays-rounding out their record at 14-7.
Is history against Garden City? Probably so-seeing how they’ve never won a state tournament game. In their four previous trips to the dance, the Lady Buffs were over matched. In 2010-they lost to Maize 8-0. In 1998-they were blanked by Wichita Northwest 12-0. Two years prior-they fell to Olathe South 9-1, and in their inaugural season 1994-Blue Valley Northwest beat them 10-0. If you’re doing the math at home, they’ve been outscored 39-1 in four quarterfinal games.
The silver lining: none of the girls on the current roster were a part of any prior failures; nor have they ever been to the big show. So playing the underdog roll is just fine with them.
“We’re embracing it,” senior Kennedy Brunson said. “We’re going to come out and play our hardest because they’re not expecting anything from us.”
Will it be enough? Stay tuned!
Next up: Garden City vs. Topeka Washburn Rural-Thursday, May 29-3 p.m.
Head Coach Trina Moquett
Infielder Kennedy Brunson
Infielder Jamie St. Clair