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Rough outing for TMP softball

By BRETT MARSHALL
Special to The Hays Daily News
GARDEN CITY — Thomas More Prep-Marian High School once was a powerhouse in Class 3A softball in Kansas.
As recently as 2008, the Monarchs claimed a state championship. But then, the numbers dwindled and the school suspended its program starting in 2011 and the absence ensued for two more seasons.
But now, the Monarchs have returned to the diamond, and with a youthful group of underclassmen, are back in business.
And new coach Melissa Schoepf knew her youngsters would have their hands full with the Garden City Buffaloes on Thursday in a doubleheader that was rescheduled from a week earlier, postponed by inclement weather.
Despite two lopsided, run-rule losses (15-0 in three innings and 10-0 in six innings), Schoepf saw some positive aspects of the Monarchs’ effort in the twin bill.
“I told them afterward that teams have a choice when you get run-ruled in three innings,” Schoepf said. “You can lay down because it’s hard to come back. But they didn’t do that. All year long we’ve talked about mental toughness and being aggressive in the field. I thought we showed that in the second game.”
Indeed, after Dusti Befort tossed a no-hitter in the opener, the Monarchs still struggled at the plate, getting no-hit by Garden City freshman Abbie Dart in the second.
But a strong fielding performance enabled the Monarchs to extend the Buffs to six innings before succumbing in a five-run GCHS sixth inning.
“We saw a lot of speed from their pitchers, and that’s hard to replicate before you actually see it,” Schoepf said. “Their pitchers moved the ball around and we were just trying to put the ball in play. By far, they brought the most speed that we’ve seen this season.”
The twin setbacks dropped the Monarchs to 3-5 overall.
In the opener, Laurel Hageman was the lone base runner for the Monarchs, earning a walk from Befort. She was stranded there after two following strikeouts.
The second game saw the Monarchs get three runners on base, the first after a strikeout and wild pitch put Morgan Choitz on first. She, too, was stranded there.
In the fourth, Katelyn Zimmerman reached on an error by Garden shortstop Kennedy Brunson, but again was left on base when a line-drive shot by Heidi Gottschalk was grabbed by a diving Cynthia Parra in right field.
The Monarchs put two runners on in the top of the sixth, Hageman being issued a walk and Kelli Veach getting hit by a pitch from Dart. That potential scoring chance was erased, though, when Hageman was thrown out at third to end the inning.
“I keep telling them that they’ve been thrown into the fire with the quality teams we’ve played early,” Schoepf said. “We just want to get better every day and not worry about the wins and losses. We’re not looking at the record right now. It’s all about how we progress and where we will be when we get to postseason.”
The Monarchs will return to action with a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Tuesday at Ellis.