FORTVILLE — One team entered Tuesday night’s softball contest at Mt. Vernon High School coming off of a two-win week, and the other was just returning from spring break for their season opener.
That difference in early-season experience showed from the start in Mt. Vernon’s 6-3 loss to Zionsville (w-0).
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead after a Mt. Vernon (0-1) miscue in the outfield.
After striking out the opening batter, a miscommunication by the Marauders on a Zionsville fly ball sparked the Eagles offense. Two walks and two singles afterward led to the early 2-0 deficit for Mt. Vernon.
“A lot of miscommunication stuff tonight,” Mt. Vernon head coach Veronica Kirby said. “We definitely have some communication stuff that we have to work on, but playing together more and more will help those things get better, and those issues will go away.”
A two-out second inning rally on a Leah Helton double and Sydny Poeck RBI-single increased the Eagles lead to 3-0. And while the Marauders had a chance to answer back, more self-inflicted mistakes kept them off of the scoreboard.
With one out in the bottom of the second, and with runners on second and third base, a ground ball to third by Ainsley Baer resulted in the third-base runner being caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out to stall the Marauders scoring threat.
A Poeck two-out, two-run home run in the fourth pushed the Zionsville lead to 5-0 and another run on a Mt. Vernon error gave them their biggest lead of the game, 6-0, in the sixth.
Poeck finished the game 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
It took until the sixth inning, but the offseason rust eventually came off for the Mt. Vernon offense. With one out in the inning, a double in the right-center gap by freshman Amya Gary brought the Marauders’ offense to life. Senior third baseman Drew Fithian followed with a double, and standout catcher Easton Wampler notched her first long ball of the season just inside the right-field foul pole. She led the Marauders with five home runs last season.
“It was just the first-game jitters, and seeing live pitching for the first time in a long time,” Kirby said. “Just adapting to that and everything else like the game and everybody and everything going on with the first game. We just got back from spring break and had one day of practice and were right in it.”
After having just two hits, and reaching base three times through the opening five innings, the Marauders matched that in the sixth. But a pitching change by the Eagles limited the damage and kept the Marauders three runs back entering the closing frame.
“I thought we did a great job of adjusting, and going with the ball. We weren’t trying to pull everything,” Kirby said. “We did a great job of just getting better each inning. A slow start, but I thought we did well considering the situation.
Although credited with the loss, Mt. Vernon pitcher Tori Jenson held the high-powered Zionsville offense in check. Remove the errors that led to three runs, and the senior pitcher limited an offense that had scored 37 runs through their opening two games to just three while striking out eight.
“She [Tori] pitched great tonight. I’m so proud of her,” Kirby said. “Take away those errors and her pitch count goes down and other than that her pitching was great. She was phenomenal.”
The Marauders are back in action tonight at home against Carmel at 6 p.m.
Zionsville 6, Mt. Vernon 3
Zionsville (3-0);210;201;0; — 6;10;1
Mt. Vernon (0-1);000;003;0; — 3;5;2
Leah Helton and Abbie Gieb. Tori Jenson and Easton Wampler. 2B: Z – Helton, Gieb, Kaylee Baxter. MV – Drew Fithian (2), Amya Gary. HR: Z – Sydny Poeck (1). MV – Wampler (1). WP – Leah Helton (2-0). LP – Tori Jenson (0-1).