GREENFIELD — Less than 24 hours after being no-hit at Fishers, Mt. Vernon arrived at Greenfield-Central Friday evening with a new mindset.
Forget about the past. Play for late May.
The fresh mantra worked. And after a 14-1 pasting of the Cougars Friday, it’s clear the Marauders are a much better squad than their 2-11 record indicates.
MV (1-1 Hoosier Heritage Conference) pounded out 15 hits – nine of which came during a nine-run sixth inning – and got a 12-strikeout performance from pitcher Ambry Turpen en route to a six-inning victory.
After Fishers sophomore Gabbi Schnaiter struck out 18 of the 23 Marauder batters she faced Thursday, McGill delivered a message to his team before they left Hamilton County.
“The only thing we can do is have a short memory,” he said to them. “Walk away from (the game) as soon as you get off the bus – it’s done with. It didn’t even happen.”
G-C aided MV’s cause Friday with four errors and other miscues, such as overthrowing relays and wild pitches. The Cougars’ 8-1 start is now a distant memory as the team has slipped to 11-5 overall and 0-4 in conference games. On top that, ace pitcher Darcie Huber exited after the first inning with an ankle injury.
The blue and gold are an extremely young team – junior second baseman Brie Whitaker was the squad’s lone starting starting upperclassmen Friday – but in the mind of coach Jason Stewart, youth is no excuse for the unit’s miscues.
“That’s been our biggest issue. The games we’ve lost our defense has been terrible except the Yorktown game,” Stewart said. “They’ve got to be mentally tougher. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got to quit looking at how old you are; it’s the same game they’ve played hundreds of times in travel ball. Nothing changes; you just have to be mentally tougher than they are right now.”
The first inning was an indication of how the night went for the hosts.
G-C made an error on the game’s first play, and then a single by Kylie Lyons put runners at first and second. Huber responded with back-to-back strikeouts, but Mikala Poe and Rachel Davis notched run-scoring base knocks before Huber could escape the inning. The sophomore – also the Cougars’ No. 2 hitter Friday – was then removed from the game because of a lingering right ankle injury suffered against Shelbyville Tuesday.
“We don’t know yet. She can’t push off it,” Stewart said of Huber, who was replaced by freshman Michaela Ballman. “She’ll get X-rays (today). We took her out for precautionary reasons.”
Each team pushed across a run in the second inning, then the visitors plated two more in the top of the fourth with the help of a Cougar throwing error.
Things came unraveled for G-C in the sixth.
With one out, Lyons hit a drive to right-center field that clanged off the top of the fence and over the wall for her first home of the year.
The next seven batters would reach for the Marauders, the big blow being Sadie Baugh – who came on as a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth – smacking a grand slam for her first career round-tripper.
When the damage was over in the top of the sixth, 14 MV players went to the dish, reaching base 11 times and scoring nine runs.
Entering the game, the Marauders had scored more than three runs in a game just once, and that came in their lone win of the season to that point – a 6-0 triumph over Lutheran on April 12.
McGill expected an adjustment period for the team’s offense following the graduation of 2013 seniors Ellie Balbach and Rachel Houck, two players who combined for 68 RBI last year. He didn’t expect it to take this long, however.
“When you lose two All-State and All-Star players like Houck and Balbach, it takes a little awhile. I knew it would take awhile,” he said. “I really didn’t think we would be in this position, but we’re playing for the end of May now.”
Baugh (2-for-2, home run, four RBI), Lyons (2-for-4, two runs, home run), Davis (3-for-4, run, RBI), Turpen (2-for-4, run) and Emily White (2-for-3, two runs, stolen base) contributed to a balanced MV offense Friday.
On the mound, Turpen was sterling, tossing six innings of five-hit, one-run ball. Her strikeout total of 12 was two more than her season high, and the Butler recruit walked just two batters.
“That is the best she’s been all year,” McGill said. “She had pretty good command.”
Friday was the second contest in what will be 9-game, 10-day stretch for the black and gold, a slate that includes HHC tilts against Yorktown (today), Shelbyville (Tuesday), Delta (Wednesday) and Pendleton Heights (Thursday).
“If we can play like we did tonight, we’ll be fine,” McGill said, noting the team is now focused on getting ready for sectional play later this month.
The Cougars return to action today against Southport (6-9). Stewart delivered a simple message to his team in their postgame huddle.
“Get some heart. Make routine plays,” he said. “We’re getting beat on stuff we practice. … That’s the frustrating part, when you beat yourselves. All of the games we’ve lost, except for the Yorktown game, we’ve beat ourselves. We haven’t given ourselves a chance.
“Ambry pitched well tonight, they swung the bats and outplayed us, but when you have that many errors, it’s tough.”
Notes: Mt. Vernon has won four straight meetings against Greenfield-Central by combined score of 36-9. … Morganne Denny was 2-for-3 for G-C.
Mt. Vernon 14, Greenfield-Central 1
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
MV (2-11, 1-1 HHC) 210 209 X — 14 15 0
GC (11-5, 0-4 HHC) 010 000 X — 1 5 4
WP: Turpen (1-0). LP: Huber (7-5).
MV: Lyons 2-for-4, 2 R, HR; Baugh 2-for-2 HR, 4 RBI; White 2-for-3 2 R, SB; Davis 3-for-4, RBI, R; Turpen 2-for-4, R
GC: Denny 2-for-3; Gradkowski BB, 1B, SB.