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Softball Preview: White, Lyons, Davis, Turpen power Mt. Vernon

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Head coach: Mike McGill, 12th season

2013: 19-11 overall, 5-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference. Beat Guerin Catholic 11-1 (six innings) in 3A Sectional 26 championship game, lost 7-4 to Lebanon in regional championship game.

Last sectional title: 2013

Key losses: 2013 Hancock County Co-Player of the Year SS Rachel Houck (.438/12 HR/37 RBI) and All-County P Ellie Balbach (11-7/2.90 ERA/.465/31 RBI).

Outlook: MV aims for a third straight sectional title without the services of graduated four-year standouts Houck and Balbach. The Marauders are also jumping from 3A to 4A, making continued postseason success even more challenging. Over the last two tourneys, MV outscored five 3A Sectional 26 foes 75-2. … The Marauders’ tentative lineup, according to coach Mike McGill, begins with senior CF Emily White (.411/26 R) leading off followed by sophomore 3B Lauren Montgomery (.176), junior C Kylie Lyons (.442/21 RBI), senior 2B Rachel Davis (.396/10 HR/27 RBI), senior P Ambry Turpen (7-4/2.54 ERA/.357/14 RBI), sophomore RF Sadie Baugh (.300), senior LF Mikala Poe (.388), sophomore SS Kristen Conners and senior 1B Morgan Stricker (.333). … Davis joined Houck and Balbach as unanimous All-Hoosier Heritage Conference selections last season, as well as All-County Honorees. White was All-HHC Honorable Mention and All-County HM. … Turpen, a Butler commit, had plenty of experience as MV’s No. 2 hurler behind Balbach the last few seasons. The right-hander threw 69 innings last year, 53.2 as a sophomore and 50 as a freshman. Poe and sophomore Kristen Conners will back up Turpen on the mound.

McGill says: “(Houck and Balbach) just aren’t there any more, so you just make the change. Next kid up.”

“I’m expecting a big year out of Rachel (Davis) and I’m expecting a good year out of Ambry Turpen. And also Kylie Lyons.”

“We will be as good as the pitching we get, whether it’s from Ambry or Poe or Conners.”

“The Conners kid is a player. She’s going to be good, I think. You never know until you get them out there and put them in that situation, but she’s shown us some good things in practice. So, we’ll see how she does.”

 “I’m actually looking forward to a challenge (of a 4A sectional). We had probably the weakest sectional in the state in all classes. But, two years ago, it was good to get a sectional title. Last year, it was like, ‘Who cares?’ So, this will be a lot more fun I think, a lot more challenging.”

Opening Day: The Marauders will visit Cathedral on Thursday.

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