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SPOTLIGHT
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TMP softball drops pair to Dodge City

Published on -4/2/2014, 10:35 AM

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By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

There are going to be many lessons for the inexperienced Thomas More Prep-Marian softball team this season, its first since 2010.

On Tuesday against visiting Dodge City at TMP Field, the lesson in which Monarch coach Melissa Schoepf tried to impart on her team was that good teams find a way to come back after opening a doubleheader with a loss.

And what she found out is the Monarchs still have a lot to learn.

"They will come back ready to play the second one and that was kind of the problem," Schoepf said of good teams. "We didn't get started where we needed to and trying to dig yourself out of a hole is a hard thing to do. We need to work on being a team that can come back the second game and can take care of outs and take care of the plate by manufacturing some runs."

Unlike last week's season-opening run fest with Sacred Heart, TMP (1-3) found itself in a pitcher's duel in Game 1 against Class 6A Dodge City (2-0) on Tuesday and eventually fell 3-0. Game 2 was a 15-1 rout by the Red Demons.

In Game 1, TMP and Dodge City entered the seventh inning scoreless behind strong pitching from Monarch freshman Alison Helget and Red Demon sophomore Mattisyn Tieben. It came down to the first team to crack would lose, and it ended up being the Monarchs.

Dodge City opened the final inning with a single by sophomore Baily Shelor, who was able to easily steal second base. That paved the way for a three-run inning, all with two outs.

TMP was able to get two on with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but three consecutive outs ended the game.

"Alison did pitch a great game in that first game," Schoepf said. "The opportunities were there. We had our chances. We couldn't capitalize on them. We weren't as aggressive as I wanted us to be there at the plate when we had runners in scoring position in that first game."

Schoepf used the word "deflated" to describe the Monarchs in Game 2. Dodge City opened the second part of the doubleheader by scoring five runs in the first inning, three coming before an out was recorded.

The Red Demons tacked on one run in the second, four in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth, outhitting TMP 13 to 4 with six Monarch errors. The game was called after five innings because of the run rule.

"Being the first game of the season, I think we were a little cold at the plate. It took us a while to adjust," Dodge City coach Heather Steiner said. "I just think that getting the win the first game, even though it may not have been the prettiest of wins, it gave them that little bit of confidence and they relaxed a little bit at the plate."

On the plus side, Schoepf was happy with the team's performance in Game 1, especially pitching and defense. After allowing a combined 30 runs in a split with Sacred Heart on Thursday, the TMP defense could do no wrong early against Dodge City, holding the Demons to only four hits in the first game.

The difference came in three TMP errors and timely hitting by Dodge City late in the contest.

"After last week, we really worked on getting the first pitch strike. That was the main difference between last week's game and this week's game," Schoepf said. "We can do a lot more when we can get ahead in the count and (Helget) did a better job with that. Then our defense was behind her. They fielded, they did everything correct. Unfortunately, it came down to the first team to make an error and that was us."

TMP will travel to Garden City on Thursday for a 3 p.m. doubleheader.

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