Standing their ground: Marauders slug past Cougars

GREENFIELD — Records and ranking didn’t matter to the Mt. Vernon Marauders on Friday night.

Their Hoosier Heritage Conference showdown against Class 4A No. 5 Greenfield-Central required grit and 14 hits, including a pair of home run blasts from Morgan Moss and Karly Van Slyke in the clutch.

Trailing 5-1 and tied at 7-all, the Marauders put together back-to-back four run frames in the top of the fourth and fifth to outslug the Cougars (10-2, 2-2 HHC) to win 11-9.

“We knew we had to be on top of our game and we’ve had a rough start, but these girls never quit,” Mt. Vernon head coach Veronica Kirby said. “I hope this is our turning point.”

Mt. Vernon entered Friday’s inter-county showdown 0-3 in the HHC and 3-5 on the season, losing three of their last four games.

Their team leaders came through to secure conference win No. 1 and hand Greenfield-Central their second straight loss after running out to a 10-0 start to the season.

As expected, the Cougars built a 5-1 lead after two innings scoring on a fielding error and an RBI single by Sarah Morris in the first. A three-run home run from Morganne Denny with one out that sailed over the left-center field wall — her fifth of the year — put Greenfield-Central in control.

The Marauders, however, responded with a six-run top of the third, sending 10 hitters to the plate and scoring all of their runs with two outs following an infield error.

Kristin Conners drove in the first on a fielder’s choice, MacKenzie McCann added another on an RBI-double and Lauren Montgomery’s RBI single put the Marauders up 7-5.

But Van Slyke’s third long ball of the year capped the inning, as she drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence for three runs.

“It took every single one through 16 of them to win tonight,” Kirby said. “They’re a phenomenal team. We finally answered to that really well. Karly was a great leader tonight as a senior. She did what it took.”

The Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the third with solo home run from Morris and an error to score Makayla Durick.

Even as the Marauders plated another pair of runs in the top of the fourth on back-to-back singles from Van Slyke and Jennah Ruddick, the Cougars answered.

Greenfield-Central’s Casey McDaniel crossed home plate in the bottom of the fourth from third base on a wild pitch, running for Maria Kihega, who was 4-for-5.

From there, though, Kaitlyn Nugent, who relieved Sara Pridgen in the fifth, limited the Cougars to three hits and one run the final three frames. Greenfield-Central stranded four runners combined in the sixth and seventh.

Denny was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and an run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh. Morris finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

“Our pitching lulled our infield to sleep tonight,” Greenfield- Central head coach Jason Stewart said. “We’re not hitting spots and we had two errors (in the third and fourth) that cost us seven runs. There’s your ball game right there.”

Moss and Van Slyke had a say as well, going 2-for-5 and 3-for-4, respectively, while driving in six runs. McCann was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Ruddick was 2-for-3.

Moss’s two-run homer in the fifth was her fourth this season and put Mt. Vernon ahead 11-8 with two outs.

“You can’t give teams extra at-bats,” Stewart said. “We scored nine runs. You should win a ball game. Plain and simple.”

Scoreline

Mt. Vernon 11, Greenfield-Central 9

MVHS (4-5, 1-3 HHC);016;220;0;—11;14;2

GCHS (10-2, 2-2 HHC);232;100;1;—;9;13;3

WP: Sara Pridgen. LP: Makayla Durick

HR: Karly Van Slyke, Morgan Moss (MV); Morganne Denny, Sarah Morris. 2B: MacKenzie McCann (MV); Morganne Denny (G-C). RBI: Lauren Montgomery, Morgan Moss 2, Kristin Conners, Karly Van Slyke 4, Jennah Ruddick, M. McCann 2 (MV); M. Denny 4, S. Morris 2 (G-C).

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Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.