In a pair of near-perfect performances Tuesday night, the Dodge City Red Demons softball team quickly overwhelmed the Hays-Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarchs, run-ruling them in both games of the evening’s doubleheader by scores 10-0 and 12-2.
Each game took only five innings.
It was the second and third straight time the Red Demons (4-0) have run-ruled an opponent dating back to March 21’s second game, when they beat the McPherson Bullpups 16-6.
Senior Raegan Lopp was dominant in the circle Tuesday night, striking out seven batters and allowing just one hit without allowing any runs. It was her third strong performance of the season and her third win.
For a player whom head coach Ashley Podschun had previously said worked incredibly hard this offseason, Tuesday’s performance certainly didn’t hurt.
“Felt pretty good, not going to lie,” a smiling Lopp said. “I felt pretty good. I worked really hard in the offseason, so it’s definitely paying off.”
“(Lopp has) been exceptional all year, to be honest with you,” Podschun said. “She’s pitching the way this year that I would have loved her to have pitched the last two years, where I can throw any pitch on any count.”
Even her one allowed hit shouldn’t necessarily have happened, Podschun said.
“To be honest with you, she really should have thrown a no-hitter, that was a miscommunication, the ball that dropped,” Podschun said.
The wind played a little havoc on that ball, she said.
“Props to her,” Podschun said. “She’s pitching phenomenal: Hitting her spots like I need her to, getting ahead of her batters and not getting behind in any batters like she has in the past. (I’m) super proud of her.”
The Red Demons made few mistakes Tuesday, despite a vigorous wind throughout both games. It was strong enough that balls hit to the outfield during warmups were clearly seen to change path mid-flight.
The Red Demons’ high level of play was perhaps nowhere more evident than on defense.
The Monarchs hit balls into the outfield a number of times during both games, but few, if any, fell in play.
“I was proud of our defense today, we looked a lot better,” Podschun said. “We had that one little mishap, we got a little ahead of ourselves on a couple throws, but other than that I was super proud of how the outfield specifically played.”
New to the outfield was junior Zabree Rodriguez, Podschun said. Rodriguez played in right field Tuesday.
“We’ve not had any practice in the wind, so for them to play the wind the way they did, (I was) super proud of them,” Podschun said.
Offense was another strength of the Red Demons on Tuesday.
“I think everyone had a really strong game,” senior Maddie Kalscheur said. “Our defense was great. Offense has been good since the beginning of the season. I knew we were going to be a good offensive team — we’re faced with a lot of different types of pitching and we’re pretty good at adjusting.”
Rodriguez’s impact wasn’t only felt on defense.
Entering the bottom of the second game’s fourth inning, the Red Demons led 7-0. After a single by senior Madison Armstrong to lead off the inning and a groundout by another Red Demon, Rodriguez came up and hit a home run over the right-field fence to extend the Red Demons’ lead to 9-0.
Since last week’s games against McPherson, Podschun said, the team had talked about getting at least one or two runs each inning. They executed that plan to near perfection Tuesday.
“The fact that, of the 10 innings we played today, we only had one inning where we didn’t score a run — props to our offense,” Podschun said. “They listened, they made adjustments at the plate — so super proud of the way they played.”
While Rodriguez’s home run might have been the only one to go over the fence, it actually wasn’t the only time a player touched all four bases on a play Tuesday.
The Red Demons entered the bottom of the second inning in the second game down 2-1, but in the bottom of the inning they blew it wide open.
A two-RBI single by junior Elise Helfrich gave the Red Demons a 3-2 lead.
The Red Demons got another RBI to make the score 4-2, but with two on, freshman Mari Landa came up and made one of the biggest plays of the night, hitting a deep shot that stayed in the park but became a three-run, inside-the-park home run.
Landa finished it by sliding on her stomach about the same time the catcher caught the throw to the plate.
“It was great to see that,” Kalscheur said. “A lot of us have had that like once in our career, and it’s just a great accomplishment. It’s kind of like a laughing thing, but it’s always a good thing.”
Podschun waved Landa around third on the play. She said she was kind of waiting to see where the ball ended up and that the cutoff player — the second baseman — was in position on the play, but the Monarchs overthrew her.
Once she saw that happen, Podschun said, she knew she was sending Landa home. But as Landa rounded third, Podschun said, she told Landa she needed to get down because the ball was going to get to home plate about the same time she would.
“I told her she had to get down as I was wheeling her (to go home),” Podschun said. “I think she was surprised I was sending her.”
The Red Demons start their road schedule with a game at Wichita-South High School against the Titans.
That game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday and is one of multiple they are scheduled to play on the road before returning home April 16 for a doubleheader against Great Bend.