PENDLETON — Mt. Vernon went into Tuesday night’s sectional matchup with Richmond 9-16, but perhaps playing its best softball of the season.
The Marauders kept their momentum going by striking for five early runs against the 19-11 Red Devils and had chances to add more.
But after the second inning, it was almost all Richmond.
The Red Devils outscored MV 7-1 from the top of the third on, and defeated the Marauders 9-6 in a Class 4A-Sectional 9 semifinal at Pendleton Heights’ Legends Field.
Two-time reigning Class 3A sectional champ MV looked to duplicate its Monday win over Greenfield-Central in its 4A postseason debut, but found Richmond to be too strong on this night.
“(Richmond’s) a good team, a little bit better than I thought they were,” MV coach Mike McGill said. “We played them pretty well, but we made a couple of mistakes that cost us a little bit, and I think that’s been going on with our program pretty much all year.”
This had the makings of a shootout right off the bat, as the Marauders answered two Red Devil runs from the top of the first with three in the bottom half of the initial inning.
MV’s first run came on an error on a Rachel Davis grounder, allowing leadoff batter Emily White to score. Two batters later, Kristin Connors stroked a single to plate courtesy runner Mackenzie Loehr with the tying run.
The No. 8 hitter, Ambry Turpen, beat out a throw to first on a hit to short, and Sadie Baugh came in. The Marauders ended up batting around and leaving the bases loaded.
The Marauders tacked two more on the next inning, when Davis smacked one deep over the Richmond left fielder’s head, and White and Mackenzie McCann both trotted home.
Richmond (20-11) knotted it in its third, with a RBI single by Sydney Townsend and a double by Ryanne Spicer that sent both Keara Henderson and Townsend across.
The Red Devils went ahead with a pair in the fifth on three extra-base hits, one a triple by Paityn Farris that enabled Henderson to score the go-ahead run.
After MV cut it to 7-6 on Kylie Lyons’ sacrifice fly to right that plated McCann in the last of the fifth, Richmond made it 9-6 when Chloe Bennett had an RBI single after a close play at first, and Bennett’s courtesy runner, Kerestin Nugent, went on to score on a passed ball.
Marauders hot toward end
MV about made an 180-degree turn from the first three weeks of the season, in which it was saddled with a 1-10 mark.
The Marauders began to right their ship with a 14-1 pasting of G-C May 2 for their second victory, and took seven more after that.
“I thought we made tremendous strides and we came together as a team,” McGill said. “We had some internal issues but we got those worked out about three weeks ago and from that point on, I thought we played great softball.”
One of MV’s late wins came Saturday against New Castle (21-6), which faced Richmond for the sectional title Wednesday.
Five seniors bow out
Tuesday was the MV swan song for seniors Davis, Turpen, White, Morgan Stricker and Mikala Poe (the starting pitcher against Richmond).
Davis went into the game wearing the Marauders’ Triple Crown, with team-bests of .432 batting average (as of Tuesday), eight home runs and 25 RBI.
Turpin plans to play at Butler University, while White will continue softball at Trine University and Poe at Hanover College.
“I’m very proud of them,” McGill said. “They’re all intelligent young women, and they’ve got bright futures ahead of them.”
Around the bases
White, Baugh and Turpen all had two hits...Turpen relieved Poe with one out in the fifth inning and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out two...MV left 11 runners on base...NC beat PH 2-0 in the first game Tuesday.
Class 4A Sectional 9
Richmond 9, Mt. Vernon 6
SCORE BY INN. R H E
RI (20-11)203 022 0 — 9 14 1
MV (9-17)320 010 0 — 6 10 1
WP: Chowning LP: Poe
RI: Taylor 3-5, R: Henderson 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Townsend 2-4, 2 RBI, R; Spicer 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI.
MV: Baugh 2-4, 2B; White 2-4, RBI, R; Turpen 2-4, RBI; Davis 2B, 2 RBI.