By Mike Pilosof
Borger, TX-It may have been an early season, non-conference doubleheader in late February, but Wednesday's two road wins over Frank Phillips had plenty of significance.
Micaela Martinez hit her team-leading seventh homer of the season, Samantha Akers tossed her first shutout, and Garden City swept Frank Phillips 10-0 and 8-6 at Plainsmen Field. The Broncbusters improved to 10-4, their best start since 2012 when Trina Moquett's team began 15-2.
Garden City stormed out of the gates in the opener, plating seven runs in the first inning. Rebekah Roberts singled followed by back-to-back walks issued by Plainsmen starter Payten Nortman to load the bases. Then Vessels was hit by a pitch, bringing in Roberts from third. Martinez followed with a two-run double before Vessels came across on a passed ball to make it 4-0. Taylore Hartman doubled home Martinez, Nicole Milford added an RBI triple and then came around to score on Bailee Muxlow-Volk's RBI groundout.
In total, the Broncbusters scored seven runs on four hits and batted through the order in the first.
Meantime Akers was dealing in the circle. She retired six of the first seven batters she faced and scattered just five hits, while striking out two. She threw just 54 pitches in five innings of work.
Her team polished off their fourth, run-rule victory of the season with a three-run fourth. Leisha Nakagawa ripped a two-run double to right that scored Shaylene Shepherd and Roberts, and Vessels added her second RBI of the day when she singled to center, giving the Broncbusters a 10-0 advantage.
Nortman was chased after just one inning, allowing seven earned runs on four hits. She walked two. Reliever Sara Ross yielded three runs on 10 hits in four innings.
The second game saw a little bit more drama.
Vessels RBI double in the first gave the Broncbusters a 1-0 lead. But the Plainsmen (1-19) tied the game in the bottom half when Nortman's infield single scored Aurora Luera. Sara Ross followed with a run-scoring single, and Frank Phillips had a 2-1 advantage.
Garden City answered resoundingly in the second. Hartman singled to lead off and Milword and Hannah Adams walked to set up Muxlow-Volk, who slapped a line-drive single to center field that scored Hartman to even the score 2-2. Milford scored moments later on an error by third baseman Kasi Galvin-Lucio, Shepherd singled home Adams and Nakagawa knocked in Muxlow-Volk to put the Broncbusters in front 5-2. Garden City added one more on a double-steal attempt when Nakagawa was thrown out at second allowing Shepherd to trot home from third.
The Broncbusters made it 7-2 when Muxlow-Volk doubled home Milford in the third.
That's when Frank Phillips slowly began to chip away.
Hannah Hall added an RBI single in the third to cut the deficit to four. Sabrina Branch's two-run double in the fourth made it a two-run game before the Plainsmen sliced it to one in the sixth when Tori Fuller drove in two on a double to right. But that's as close as Frank Phillips would get. With the go-ahead run on second, Desiree Perea got Branch to ground out.
Martinez added some much-need insurance in the top of the seventh when she smoked a line drive shot over the left-field fence for an 8-6 lead.
Martinez and Vessels knocked in three runs in the two games while Montiel picked up her first win of the season, allowing four earned runs on five hits in four innings. Perea recorded a three-inning save, allowing just one run on two hits in three innings.
Next up: Garden City at NOC-Enid-Friday, Feb. 24-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.