After a nightmarish season-opening doubleheader loss to Dodge City nine days earlier, the TMP-Marian softball team simply was looking to shore up its defense, which had leaked like a sieve in the two setbacks to the Red Demons (5-3, 6-4).
So when Bailey Lacy finished off tossing a six-hitter, and her defensive teammates playing flawlessly in the field, coach Melissa Schoepf was more than happy with the transformation of her team.
That’s because the Monarchs had just produced an 8-2 victory over the Buffs on Thursday afternoon at Ford Field for their first win of the young season.
It would be a short-lived celebration, though, as the Monarchs did themselves in again in the nightcap, committing four errors that opened the flood gates for a 7-3 Garden City triumph.
“We had 13 really good innings today and I told the girls that we’ve just got to eliminate making the mental errors,” Schoepf said. “That was our downfall against Dodge. It’s all about mental toughness — what do you do after that first error?”
In the opener, Lacy was tough on the Buffs’ hitters, limiting them to just six hits while her defensive came up with any number of sterling catches, diving stops and strong throws to get runners out.
“Bailey was really good in the opener,” Schoepf said. “But we’ve got to get her in two-game shape because right now when we get to that fourth, fifth, sixth innings, she’s just not throwing as hard and isn’t quite as strong as we need her to be.”
Also, the Monarchs got a big production day from senior first baseman Anna Gottschalk.
All she did was become a one-player wrecking crew at the plate, going 6 for 7 with 5 RBIs while scoring two runs.
“She was huge for us,” Schoepf said of Gottschalk.
The Monarchs had taken leads of 1-0, 2-0 and 3-1 before unloading for five runs in the sixth thanks in part to three errors by the Buffs’ defense.
“I know what they (Garden City) feel like,” Schoepf said of the first game bobbles.
In the nightcap, Lacy yielded a solo home run to Laura Farmer in the first inning before the Monarchs plated three runs in the third, again getting an early Christmas gift from the Garden defense which committed one costly error that led to the three runs.
Lacy held that lead for TMP until the sixth when the Monarchs defense crumbled briefly with two miscues that enabled Garden to push across five runs, thus halting what might have been a sweep.
“I saw a lot of positive things today,” Schoepf said. “They’re fixable things and if we do that, I think we’ll be a dangerous team.”
The Monarchs will return to action Monday with a road trip to face Colby with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.