MOUNT VERNON — Perfection can be hard to come by. Many athletes strive for it, but few rarely ever experience it.
The Mount Vernon High School varsity girls softball team got a taste of perfection on Tuesday, however, against visiting Franklin Heights. Kylee Marcum pitched the 15-batter minimum, allowing no hits and no walks, and the Yellow Jacket defense was flawless in a 13-0 run-rule victory over the Falcons. The win avenges a loss to Franklin Heights last year, a loss which ultimately cost the Jackets the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division title.
“This feels great,” said Mount Vernon coach Carisa Frysinger. “We went into their house early on in the season last year and it ended up turning out that we let them ruin our league title. This year, we were going to do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. Today, we showed that.”
Though a perfect game for Marcum, Tuesday’s game wasn’t all about her. She struck out eight batters, but her teammates made some big plays in the field, including right fielder Kate Reynolds throwing out a runner at first after the ball bounced over Karina Shackle’s head. In all, there were seven putouts not involving Marcum.
“Franklin Heights was more aggressive with their bats than a lot of teams we’ve faced thus far, which really surprised me,” said Frysinger. “That shows that their program is really coming along. ... We played very well defensively. We talked about a lot of things — being down and ready, being on your toes, reaction time, getting dirty — before the game today, and I was very pleased with how we played today.”
Offensively, the Jackets were swinging their bats right from the start. Reynolds doubled to lead off the bottom of the first inning, but was thrown out trying to advance to third after a groundout by Natalie Scott. Shackle walked and moved to third after a fielding error at first base, which also left Marcum safe. Shackle then came home on another error to give Mount Vernon a 1-0 lead.
The Jackets added to that lead in the bottom of the third. Shackle reached on an infield single, and Marcum doubled to bring her in. Then, Victoria Queen blasted a shot to center field, scoring both herself and Marcum to make a 4-0 advantage.
“I was just looking for a base hit,” said Queen. “Coach has been working with me off a tee, and you can see it at the plate. I’m just trying to be confident.”
Abby Lyons then singled, but was stranded at second to end the inning.
It wasn’t long, however, before Mount Vernon continued its barrage. Courtney Clark led off with a walk in the bottom of the fourth, and Reynolds singled. Scott then dropped down a bunt, which was fielded cleanly, but Franklin Heights first baseman P Sherman couldn’t hang on, allowing Clark to score. Shackled then singled to drive in Reynolds, and both she and Scott moved up on a wild pitch. Marcum walked to load the bases, bringing up Queen. Queen hit into a fielder’s choice, but the throw home was too late to get Scott, and the Jackets led, 7-0.
The Jackets were far from done. Another fielder’s choice by Lyons scored Shackle, but left pinch runner Olivia Starmer out at third for the first out of the inning. Ashton Bogo walked to again load the bases. Jess Wellman, the ninth batter of the inning, hit a hard shot, which was not fielded cleanly. that allowed Queen to cross the plate and keep the bags packed. Clark stepped in for the second time and hit a shot to third. The ball was misplayed, scoring Lyons with the 10th run of the game.
Officially, that’s all the Jackets needed to run-rule the Falcons, but they wanted to tack on a few insurance runs for good measure. Reynolds belted her second double of the day to left-center field, scoring two more runs before another out could be recorded. Scott followed with an RBI groundout to score Clark with the final run.
“It is very positive, in the fact that hitting is contagious,” said Frysinger. “Somebody busts it open and we were able to keep it going. They all get that same kind of confidence. Kate Reynolds, a sophomore, has been batting in the leadoff spot and she has been crushing the ball. She went 3-for-4 today with two doubles. For her to be hitting the ball the way she is, it is great for the rest of the team.”
Queen threw out the first batter of the fifth, and Marcum struck out the final two batters to end the game.
The win gives the Jackets two this week, but they still have a long way to go. Still up are conference games today (against Watkins Memorial) and Friday (at Big Walnut), and nonconference games on Thursday (against Lakewood) and Saturday (doubleheader at Gahanna Classic).
“This keeps the momentum going,” Frysinger said. “We have to make sure they are getting rest, easting right and staying focused. We’ve got to keep playing the same game. I know we are not going to be perfect, but if we can stay on this same level, we are going to keep winning ball games.”