Team: New Palestine
Coach: Ed Marcum, 13th year
2015 record: 24-4
2015 results: 5-2 in Hoosier Heritage Conference, lost 8-7 (nine innings) to Center Grove in sectional championship
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Key Losses: Kaylin McMurray, Brittany Duncan and Adie Lorsung
Abby Davis, Junior, 2B
Ashley Prange, Sophomore, SS
Issy Hoyt, Senior, 3B
Madison Whitaker, Junior, LF
Mary Crumlin, Junior, 1B
Elisha Barker, Junior, P
Casey Lehman, Senior, C
Carly Roberts, Sophomore, RF
Tara Morey, Senior, CF
NEW PALESTINE — Losing several key players to graduation would cause most programs to fall deep into a deep slumber — also known as a rebuilding year.
For New Palestine, according to head coach Ed Marcum, who has 300 wins through 12 seasons of coaching, the Dragons simply reload.
New Palestine, which has averaged 25 wins over the last decade, doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon with the return of stellar junior and senior classes. With a few underclassmen sprinkled in, the Dragons are in great shape in their first season in Class 3A after spending four seasons in the 4A ranks.
Entering the 2016 season ranked No. 8 in the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association Poll, New Palestine could be flying under the radar after losing by just one run last season to eventual state champ Center Grove in the sectional final.
“We are excited for the year and to be back down in 3A after being in a tough sectional the past four years,” Marcum said. “I think people didn’t realize that, and we missed out on a couple votes in the preseason poll.”
Issy Hoyt, an all-conference selection last season, will play third base and anchor a loaded offensive lineup for the Dragons. She collected 48 hits last season (.511 average) and collected 44 RBIs with nine home runs.
“We will hit from top to bottom,” Marcum said. “We have a great group coming back.”
Brittany Duncan and Adie Lorsung combined for 12 deep balls last year but sophomore Ashley Prange and junior Madison Whitaker should both be fine in their places. Both finished above .400 at the plate last year while Prange notched 14 doubles and 22 RBIs with Whitaker collecting 30 hits and four home runs.
Overall as a team, the Dragons hit .408 and finished with 271 runs and 344 hits in 2015.
“And we might be deeper than we were a season ago,” Marcum added. “I’m expecting everybody to step up a little bit.”
Defensively, New Palestine should be in able hands with the return of pitcher Elisha Barker. Last season, Barker finished with a 1.66 earned run average and collected nine wins with just two losses. She can be dominant, as well, as the junior picked up two shutouts for the Dragons.
“She carried a lot of the load last year,” Marcum said. She’s done a great job for us the last couple of years. Going in, I think our pitching is going to be pretty strong.
New Palestine begin its season on April 5 with a home game against Southport. The Dragons beat the Cardinals 13-0 last year.
April 5: vs. Southport, 5:30 p.m.
April 6: vs. Whiteland, 5:30 p.m.
April 7: vs. Warren Central, 5:30 p.m.
April 8: vs. New Castle, 5:30 p.m.
April 11: at Roncalli, 5:30 p.m.
April 13: at Franklin Central, 6 p.m.
April 14: vs. Hamilton Southeastern, 5:30 p.m.
April 16: at Whiteland, 10 a.m.
April 19: at Yorktown, 5:30 p.m.
April 20: vs. Zionsville, 5:30 p.m.
April 21: at Mt. Vernon, 5:30 p.m.
April 22: at Eastern Hancock, 5:30 p.m.
April 23: vs. Scecina Memorial, 5:30 p.m.
April 25: vs. Wapahani, 5:30 p.m.
April 27: at Center Grove, 5:30 p.m.
April 28: at Shelbyville, 5:30 p.m.
May 3: at Cathedral, 5:30 p.m.
May 4: vs. Pendleton Heights, 5:30 p.m.
May 5: at Greenfield-Central, 5:30 p.m.
May 11: vs. Fishers, 5:30 p.m.
May 13: at Connersville, 5:30 p.m.
May 17: at Indian Creek, 5:30 p.m.
May 19: vs. Lutheran, 5:30 p.m.
May 20: vs. Delta, 5:30 p.m.