With red eyes and heavy hearts, the Dodge City Lady Demon softball team was given an opportunity to throw in the towel when circumstances happen that are greater than the game. It would have been acceptable for this team to lose focus on Friday night, given the events that had just transpired on the field.

Not this team. Not this night. It's what Katie would have wanted.


With red eyes and heavy hearts, the Dodge City Lady Demon softball team was given an opportunity to throw in the towel when circumstances happen that are greater than the game. It would have been acceptable for this team to lose focus on Friday night, given the events that had just transpired on the field.
     Not this team. Not this night. It's what Katie would have wanted.
     Behind a gritty effort from starting pitcher Mackenzie Brock and an eight run sixth inning, the Lady Demons picked up their first win on the season over Wichita South, splitting the double-header with an 11-0 victory in game two.
     "Things in the first game didn't go like we wanted, but we played a full seven innings, which was a hurdle for us and we scored in multiple innings," said head coach Heather Steiner. "In the second game, we had a lead, were able to hold onto it with a lot of different emotions."
     In game one, things didn't go exactly how the Demons had envisioned them before the game, but they were able to overcome some mental hurdles. After the Titans jumped to an early 1-0 lead, the Demons came right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the first thanks to a Riley Lopp single that brought home Ashley Stephenson.
     In the bottom of the fifth, the Demons cut a huge hole in the Titan lead, as Becca Bartel had an RBI single, Alexis Sanchez brought home two with a base knock, and Kennedy Burks plated one with a single, cutting the deficit to only two runs.
     But the Titan firepower was just too much in the opener, as they tacked on five more runs in the sixth and seventh innings to pull away for the 13-7 win at Legends Field.
     Game two was a different story, and it had a much different purpose for the Demon players.
     With Brock on the mound, Dodge City switched up their game plan by taking the lead first against the Titans. Sanchez reached on an error by the shortstop, which allowed Brooklyn Garcia to score.
     Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the fourth inning changed the entire complexity of the game. To lead off the inning, South's Kiera Broehl lined a groundball to Burks. Her throw to first baseman Katie Tieben pulled her off the bag slightly and forced her to try to pick up the ball and apply the tag from the ground.
     Attempting to jump over Tieben, Broehl's lower body connect with Tieben's head and neck, sending both to the dirt and leaving an entire stadium full of watchers speechless.
     Eventually, Tieben was carried off on a stretcher with a neck brace supporting her head. She went in and out of consciousness on the field while experiencing brief seizure symptoms. She was able to feel all of her extremities and wiggle her toes and fingers before being taken to the hospital. No word has been given to her condition after the game.
     So with the weight of the world on their shoulders, the Demons set out on a mission — win this one for Katie.
     And they performed beautifully.
     Brock continued to shut down the Titan offense that had been so efficient earlier and the Demons picked up crucial runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings, as Garcia brought home Stephenson after a near home run from the DC3 recruit.
     Then, with all the confidence and momentum in the world behind them — and maybe a little something extra from Katie — the Demons went into overdrive in the sixth. Dodge loaded the bases with no outs and the runs poured in. Lauren Oldham had an RBI single, Stephenson walked in a run, and a Sanchez 2 RBI single put up 8 runs to give the Demons an emotional 11-0 win.
     "Before I've mentioned that our mental toughness is sometimes questionable, but tonight they proved how mentally tough they can be, we're concerned about Katie and this game was for her," Steiner said. "That inning after the accident was a struggle, but they kept their chin up and proved how strong they can be. They were very intense all game long."
     Now with their first win of the year and a purpose behind their play, the Demons gear up for a meeting on Tuesday with Wichita Heights. Now the key is to see how these young girls respond when life throws them a curveball, something they're getting better with everyday.
     "I'm hoping that everyone is very confident after this, we got that first win under our belt and now they know they can do it," Steiner said. "They showed it tonight, they can play in close games and they can score lots of runs."
     First pitch between the Demons and Falcons is set for 4 p.m., with the finale scheduled to go at 6 p.m.

UPDATE:
CT scans from the hospital have come back negative, as Tieben shows no signs of any broken vertebrae around her spin or neck. She is being treated for a severe concussion and is still experiencing slight seizures while being attended to at the hospital.