PENDLETON — The Mt. Vernon softball team seems to be getting healthy and finding its groove at the right time.

The Marauders were just 8-13 during the regular season but closed out with wins in three of the last five games. The two losses came in close games to Class 4A No. 5 Center Grove (2-1) and Class 1A No. 10 Rising Sun (6-4).

They carried that strong play over into the opening round of Class 4A Sectional 9 at Pendleton Heights, defeating Richmond 13-0 in five innings on Monday evening.

“We talk about how the great thing about postseason play is that everybody starts over. Records don’t matter,” Mt. Vernon head coach Veronica Kirby said. “We got a great draw and we get an opportunity to come out here and show everybody what we can do and accomplish.”

It was a dominant performance in all aspects.

Offensively, the Marauders scored in all four innings they came to the plate.

After a 1-2-3 first inning by starting pitcher Graci Hines, the Marauders took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the frame.

Shelby Rakosky tripled to lead things off and later scored on a Richmond error.

In the second, Mt. Vernon added one more run on a Hannah Matthews double. She scored Emma Jenkins who walked to lead off the inning.

An inning later, the Marauders broke the game wide open.

A ground ball to Matthews at second base ended a bases-loaded threat in the top of the inning, and in the bottom, the Mt. Vernon bats exploded for six runs.

Senior Easton Wampler hit her fifth home run of the season for the first run of the inning, and to cap off the scoring outburst, another senior, Matthews, smashed her first home run of the year.

“We had some great kids step up tonight and be leaders. Easton hit one over the scoreboard and then Hannah, a senior hitting in the ninth spot, hit the ball really well and caught them off guard,” Kirby said. “I’m super proud of her [Matthews] for being a senior leader tonight. That makes everybody settle in and relax. It was a great opportunity for her.”

In the inning, the Marauders tallied five hits and sent nine batters to the plate. Along with the two home runs, Hines singled and Mikayla Oger and Lillian Jenkins both added RBI singles.

To end things after just five innings, Mt. Vernon added five more runs in the fourth inning.

Wampler and Matthews each added another hit and RBI, Hines and Oger picked up their second base knocks of the game, Emma Jenkins reached base for the third time, Emery Wampler notched a single and her second RBI of the game, and Rakosky tallied her second hit and first RBI.

“We talked about being patient, not over-swinging, and just going with the ball. It took us a second to figure that out and once we did we found our gaps. Our hits weren’t down the line, they were up the middle,” Kirby said. “We didn’t try to pull everything and lived up the middle like we wanted. We hit it like we should and did a lot of things well tonight. We’re heading in the right direction to get to where we need to be.”

The Marauders tallied 15 hits on the night, with all nine batters recording at least one hit.

Rakosky, Easton Wampler, Hines, and Oger each had two hits, while Matthews led the way with a perfect 3-for-3 night. Matthews tallied four RBI, while Oger and both Easton and Emery Wampler had two.

In the circle, the Marauders were just as dominant.

Hines threw four innings, allowed one hit, walked two and struck out seven. In the fifth, Aubrey Lowe closed things out by sending the Red Devils down in order.

“Graci threw great tonight,” Kirby said. “She’s still slowly fighting through her injury and fatigue hits her hard, but she’s really coming into her own and we’re really proud of how hard she’s worked to get to this point.”

Mt. Vernon will meet Hancock County rival Greenfield-Central in the semifinals on Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The regular season matchup between the two teams lasted over three hours, had 19 combined hits, 26 walks and ended in a 14-13 Mt. Vernon victory.

“Greenfield can hit. Hopefully our bats come around that day. We’re going to have to play some defense, and Graci has thrown a lot more innings since then, so hopefully now that she’s more game ready we won’t see that type of scoring,” Kirby said. “It’s going to be a good game for sure.”

Mt. Vernon 13, Richmond 0

Richmond (3-13-1);000;00;—;0;1;1

Mt. Vernon (9-13);116;5x;—;13;15;0

Kamdyn DePew, Macie Ferguson (4) and Makilah Smith; Graci Hines, Aubrey Lowe (5) and Easton Wampler. 2B: Hannah Matthews, Ainsley Baer. 3B: Shelby Rakosky. HR: Easton Wampler (5), Matthews (1). WP: Hines (4-1). LP: DePew.