NEW PALESTINE — The No. 3 New Palestine softball team was a master of its environment Tuesday night.
With the wind gusting out toward the fences the majority of the game, the Dragons played the elements perfectly.
Their offense frequently lifted the ball into the air, and the pitchers kept it on the ground.
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The result was three wind-aided home runs that backed up starter Kaylin McMurray, who induced 14 ground-ball outs to lead the Dragons to an 8-2 home win against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Yorktown.
“Kaylin did an outstanding job of getting us a lot of ground balls, because anything in the air was an adventure today,” New Palestine (9-0, 2-0 HHC) coach Ed Marcum said after the game.
McMurray (7-0) pitched six innings Tuesday, allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits. The senior struck out two and walked two in picking up the victory.
Elisha Barker relieved McMurray in the seventh inning. She notched three quick outs, including two ground balls.
On offense, Adie Lorsung broke open the game early with a two-run blast to right-center field.
It was her fourth home run of the season.
A couple of innings later, after Mary Crumlin kept the inning alive with an infield RBI-single, Madison Whitaker launched her first homer of the year, a three-run shot that pushed the Dragons’ lead to 6-0.
She would later add a triple to come just a double short of hitting for the cycle.
Yorktown (6-2, 1-2 HHC) scratched out a run in the top of the fourth, but Issy Hoyt quickly erased their efforts with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning, making the score 8-1.
“We were just trying to hit the ball hard some-where, and a couple of them caught the jet stream,” Marcum said. “But those balls were hit hard, and without the wind, they still would have at least been gap doubles, if not home runs.”
The Tigers added an unearned run in the fifth but could muster no more.
They became the fourth team this season to score two runs against the Dragons.
No team has scored more against them.
Marcum said the team’s pitchers have done an outstanding job all year.
Moving on up
In the middle of Tuesday night’s victory, the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association released their latest poll. Formerly No. 5, New Palestine climbed the Class 4A rankings up to No. 3.
The Dragons received 91 votes, just three behind Crown Point and seven back of No. 1 Penn. Penn and Crown Point have sat atop the coaches’ poll since the association released its preseason rankings.
Marcum said neither he nor his team are concerned with polls or standings at this point in the season.
“It’s a sign of respect to the program,” he said. “That’s all it is. But the idea is to be No. 1 at the end of the year.”
Pursuit of perfection
The 2009 Dragons are within reach. The 2015 Dragons’ ninth win puts them six victories shy of tying the ’09 squad for the best start in program history.
Of course, that ’09 teams owns something these Dragons won’t have a chance to replicate until mid-June. A state championship.
Tuesday’s game was the first of a four-games-in-four-days schedule for the Dragons. New Palestine heads to Zionsville (5-5) today for a 5:30 p.m. date with Eagles. They then meet HHC rival Mt. Vernon (4-3, 0-1) Thursday before closing out with county foe Eastern Hancock (3-2) on Friday.