FORTVILLE — The Mt. Vernon Marauders’ hitters made plenty of contact Friday night. They just couldn’t find the holes.
Senior ace Sara Pridgen turned in a quality start, limiting Class 4A Hamilton Southeastern to one hit the final five innings, but the Marauders’ bats couldn’t generate a rally as Mt. Vernon lost 3-0 at home.
“I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform right now,” Mt. Vernon head coach Veronica Kirby said. “This is our second game, so the first game jitters are out of the way, but now, we feel like we should hit well like we did last year. We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves to do that again.”
A year ago, the 4A Marauders hit at nearly .280 as a team, swatted 22 home runs and drove in 96 runs.
Their first game of the 2016 season was canceled against Cathedral on March 31, and with spring break mixed in, the Marauders sat dormant — primarily indoors — until this past Tuesday.
The Marauders lost in extra innings 6-2 to Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Yorktown in the opener at home, which gives them two runs in 15 innings.
“We waited so long to play, I feel like we’re not going deep into as many counts and we’re swinging too soon in counts and not waiting,” Mt. Vernon senior Sadie Baugh said. “We know we can do it, it’s just putting hits together, back-to-back-to-back, so we can score runs.”
If Friday was any indication, then the Marauders (0-2) are literally knocking on the door.
Hamilton Southeastern’s Alexis Macha earned the win, pitching a complete-game shutout with 10 strikeouts and four hits surrendered.
The night prior, she allowed 12 runs against Class 3A No. 3 New Palestine as the Dragons stormed back from a 10-run deficit to win 18-10.
The Marauders runners in scoring position five times against Macha, including a bases loaded situation in the sixth with two outs.
Macie Dungan led of the bottom of the first inning with a double but was left stranded as Macha retired the next three Marauders. Dungan once again couldn’t get past second with one out after a force play and a pop up.
Kristin Conners advanced to second base on an error with two outs in the fourth, and MacKenzie McCann reached third on a single, ground out and stolen base before getting caught stealing at home in the fifth.
In the sixth, Mt. Vernon loaded the bases off a fielder’s choice by Baugh, a single by Morgan Moss and a walk by Conners, but the big hit remained elusive.
Mt. Vernon left seven runners on base.
“We want to be successful,” Kirby said. “They’re thinking about the things ahead of them too much, our extremely competitive conference and the sectional when those teams come around; we need to think about now.”
Pridgen was charged with three runs in the loss. All of them crossed the plate in the top of the second.
The Royals (2-4) strung together six straight hits and loaded the bases once. A Veronica Olson two-run single and an a fielding error, followed by a Sydney Cooley RBI-single put the Royals ahead.
From there, Pridgen stonewalled HSE, retiring 10 consecutive while the defense robbed numerous hits.
“We played phenomenal defense, and Pridgen pitched a great game. She focused right back in, made some adjustments and showed her leadership as a senior,” Kirby said. “We did a lot of things well. We just need to find our bats.”
The Marauders play host to Columbus East today for a doubleheader starting at 10 a.m.
Hamilton Southeastern 3, Mt. Vernon 0
HSE (2-4); 030;000;0;—;371
WP: Alexis Macha LP: Sara Pridgen
2B: Macie Dungan (MV). SB: M. Dungan, MacKenzie McCann (MV).
Notables: A. Macha 4 hits allowed, two walks, 10 strikeouts.