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Softball Preview: Wood, Hoyt key New Palestine lineup

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Head coach: Ed Marcum, 11th season

2013: 20-7 overall, 5-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference. Lost 10-1 to Franklin Central in 4A Sectional 13 championship.

Last sectional title: 2011

Key losses: Hancock County Co-Player of the Year SS Erin Lehman (.500/35 R/10 2B/14 SB), All-County P Lizzie Garrison (12-4/1.85 ERA/60K), All-County Honorable Mention 1B Megan Prosser (.348).

Outlook: Junior Kaylin McMurray (6-3/2.17 ERA/.219) and freshman Elisha Barker are on equal footing as the Dragons’ top pitchers as the season opens. …LF Markie Wood (.485/17 2B/28 R) is slotted into the Dragons’ leadoff spot, according to coach Ed Marcum, followed by junior CF Brittany Duncan (.359) or senior 2B Addi Clouse (.194) in the No. 2 hole. Sophomore 3B Issy Hoyt (.488/22 RBI) is the Dragons’ No. 3 hitter with junior SS and 2013 RBI leader Adie Lorsung (.395/29 RBI) batting clean-up. Sophomore RF/SS Abby O’Connor (.208), sophomore C Casey Lehman (.283), freshman 1B/C Mary Crumlin, Barker or McMurray (depending one who is pitching) and Duncan or Clouse round out the projected order. …

Wood and Hoyt were All-HHC and All-County selections last season. Lorsung made honorable mention on both lists. … The Dragons haven’t gone three seasons without a sectional championship since the 2003 squad captured the program’s first title since 1994. … NP will face fellow Sectional 13 competitors Whiteland (Wednesday), defending champ Franklin Central (April 16), Center Grove (April 30) and Greenwood (May 19) in the regular season. FC pitcher Gabby Snyder, who threw a complete game in a sectional title win over the Dragons, graduated.

Marcum says: “We’re going to be a little younger with our pitching with Elisha being a freshman, but we’ve got a lot of depth in the program. So, I’m pretty happy with that. I’m looking forward to the season.”

“Kaylin and Elisha are kind of 1A and 1B right now (as NP’s pitchers) and I’m not even sure yet which one is which. Kaylin’s proven to be mentally tough. She was the one that pitched our sectional (semifinal) win last year over Greenwood when we beat them 1-0. So, she certainly has the talent.”

 “Everybody’s going to have to step up some offensively. It’s not like you’re going to replace Erin and Megan. Erin gave us such a threat when she got on the bases, too. Markie’s going to lead off for us. She had a great year last year. Lorsung, Issy, they’ll be big again. I think Brittany Duncan’s going to have a big year for us. I think Abby O’Connor seems much more relaxed. Last year she was kind of a freshman that played sparingly, but I expect a huge year from her, also. I think all of them are going to have a better year, and that’s what we’re going to have to have.”

“I do feel like we have more depth this year. A strong freshmen class. We’ve got some speed that will come in from the JV to help us. Mary Crumlin, one of our freshmen, I expect very big things from her. She’s a very good hitter. And then another kid that stepped up big in our scrimmage the other day was (freshman) Madison Whitaker. And then with Barker, we’ve got some depth in that freshmen class.”

Opening Day: New Palestine will host Southport on Tuesday.

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