NEW PALESTINE — Before visiting South- port could even blink, Class 3A No. 4 New Palestine was in control.
Behind a dominating pitching performance from junior hurler Elisha Barker and a home run from junior Mary Crumlin, the Dragons jumped out to a commanding lead after three innings en route to a 6-1 win against the Cardinals on Tuesday in the season opener.
New Palestine, which collected eight hits in the win, scored six runs before Southport managed to squeak through its batting order. Barker did her part, sending the first eight batters back to the dugout to finish with five strikeouts and one earned run.
“She (Elisha Barker) did a nice job early on, especially working batters,” Dragons coach Ed Marcum said, who earned win No. 301 Tuesday. “Offensively, we were hitting the ball hard but right at them. Mary (Crumlin) came through there (in the second inning).
“We usually like to be a little more aggressive, but she (Southport pitcher Haleigh Keen) struggled a little bit early. Then we got a little too aggressive.”
Last season, New Palestine (1-0) routed Southport 13-0 on way to its 12th straight winning season under Marcum. Tuesday was much of the same, as the Dragons used two hits and three walks to secure a 4-0 lead after the first inning.
In the second, senior Issy Hoyt ripped a double to center field only to see Crumlin bring her home one batter later with a two-run blast over the left-field fence. Hoyt finished 2-for-4 at the plate, while Crumlin was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Hoyt also scored two runs and reached on an infield single in the first inning.
Sophomores Ashley Prange and Carly Roberts added doubles in the victory. Prange also scored a run while Roberts picked up an RBI.
Southport (0-4) finally got its offense going in the sixth inning after a home run from Shelby Hunt. Kayla Fox added two hits, both singles, for the Cardinals.
And although win No. 301 took nearly 11 months for Marcum to obtain, it was worth the wait — especially after a solid opening day win.
After hitting the ever-respectable mark of 300 wins as a head coach last season in the sectional semifinal, Marcum and the Dragons came up one game — and one run — short of a sectional title after falling to eventual 4A state champion Center Grove (8-7 in nine innings).
Now in Class 3A, the state-ranked Dragons made an opening statement that they might have enough firepower to make another deep run — this time in a less dominant class.
“We just need to keep improving,” Marcum said. “We look forward to playing.”
New Palestine returns to action Thursday at home against Warren Central.
Southport 1 New Palestine 6
SCORE BY INNINGS;R;H;E
New Palestine (1-0);420;000;0;—;6;8;2
LOB: SP 7, NP 8. 2B: Hoyt, Roberts, Prange (NP). HR: Crumlin (NP), Hunt (SP).
WP: Barker (1-0). LP: Keen.