FORTVILLE — There were no conference implications Friday night. Nothing else mattered for the Mt. Vernon Marauders but their love for the game.
It was exactly what they needed.
Submersed in the moment, the Marauders collectively clicked against the visiting Westfield Shamrocks and rolled to an impressive 8-1 victory on Mt. Vernon Softball Youth Night.
“It was a fun evening where we could relax and play ball like we know how,” third-year Mt. Vernon head coach Veronica Kirby said. “We needed to go back to when we played when we were young and just enjoy it and have fun.”
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With several Mt. Vernon youth softball players in attendance, the Marauders invited their guests onto the field for player introductions and the national anthem. After the game, the youths ran the bases and hung out with their favorite players.
“I loved it so much. To see them out here super happy, it was amazing,” Mt. Vernon senior Kristin Conners said. “I hope one day they look up to us and they want to be just like us. That would be awesome to be role models for them.”
The Marauders made sure they left a positive impression, capping the celebration of tomorrow’s softball stars with an eight-hit performance to snap a two-game skid.
Mt. Vernon (6-7) recently put together a two-game winning by out slugging Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central and Noblesville before falling to conference foes Shelbyville and Pendleton Heights.
Their most recent loss Thursday at Pendleton Heights especially stung as the Marauders led 4-1 and 7-6 before losing late 9-7.
“Much better after last night,” Kirby said. “I told them, ‘That’s what good teams do. We have a game last night where we weren’t too thrilled about the outcome, but we turn around tonight and we bounced back.”
Kaitlyn Nugent set the tone, tossing seven innings and allowing one run while scattering six hits against Westfield (7-9), which had won four straight previously.
The sophomore improved to 4-2 on the year, retiring six straight batters faced at one point and striking out seven.
“She had really good control tonight, kept the ball low and worked it out,” Kirby said. “She’s showing that next step. She just continues to get better.”
Nugent’s lone nemesis was Shamrock sophomore Corrine Molter, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI double in the top of the fourth.
The Marauders supplied Nugent with a 2-0 lead in the third with a two-out rally.
Sadie Baugh drove in the first run with a double that touched the left-field fence and later scored from third base on a fielding error.
The offense erupted in the fourth for three runs behind five singles — three consecutive — against Westfield starter Rebekah Davidson.
Morgan Moss and Makenzie Gee opened the frame with back-to-back hits and MacKenzie McCann, Savanna Schultz and Jennah Ruddick lined RBI singles to the outfield.
“I felt like tonight was another stepping stone toward us playing as a team. Everyone contributed. Everyone did their part,” Kirby said. “This is what happens when we do that.”
Lauren Montgomery scored the first of two more runs in the fifth on a passed ball and a fielder’s choice by Gee scored Conners. Both reached base on singles to start the bottom half of the inning, which chased Davidson.
A Montgomery ground out drove home Morgan Scruggs in the sixth for Mt. Vernon’s final run.
Eight different players collected a hit for the Marauders. Mt. Vernon carried a .280 batting average as a team into the game and have scored 28 runs in the past four games.
McCann and Ruddick were both 1-for-2. The Marauders worked for four walks and only struck out twice.
“To have a win like this is rejuvenating for us,” Conners said while referring to their loss to Pendleton Heights despite out hitting them 14-12. “It’s good to have this kind of game.”
Not to mention what it could mean down the road.
“This is really important to me, and I really enjoy this,” Kirby remarked on Youth Night. “We talk about how our girls are role models to these girls. I remember this stuff from when I was little. They remember when they were little, so this was something I wanted to make sure we brought back and started again.”
Mt. Vernon 8, Westfield 1
WP: Kaitlyn Nugent LP: Rebekah Davidson
2B: Sadie Baugh (MV); Corrine Molter (WHS).
RBI: S. Baugh, Lauren Montgomery, Makenzie Gee, MacKenzie McCann, Savanna Schultz, Jennah Ruddick (MV); C. Molter (WHS).
Notables: Ruddick 1-2, Schultz 1-1, McCann 1-2, Nugent 7.0 IP, 6 H, ER, 7 K (MV); Molter 2-3 (WHS).