MOUNT VERNON — Pitcher Kylee Marcum has won games for the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets with her arm. She has also done it with her bat.
On Wednesday, Marcum used both, and Mount Vernon beat Olentangy Orange, 4-3, in Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division softball action. Marcum struck out five of the first 10 batters she faced, and when her arm began to tire, she smashed a three-run home run to deep right-center field to put her team ahead for good.
“I just do what I do,” said Marcum. “I was looking for a base hit; I don’t look to hit a home run ever. It just sort of happened that way, an accident. ... It looked like a beach ball coming in there.”
The Yellow Jacket defense, which had played solid nearly the whole game, came up big in the final two innings. The Jackets (11-2, 7-1 OCC Capital) fielded a sacrifice bunt and two pop-ups cleanly, and senior Natalie Scott made a diving grab in center field to end the game.
“My defense saves me every game,” Marcum said. “It takes nine to win a ballgame. Big catches like (Natalie’s) and even routine catches in the infield are just as important. They are equal.”
“I knew if it was coming to me, I had to get it,” said Scott. “I had to be ready no matter what. ... I got a good jump on it, and got my glove on it.”
At the start of the game, a win wasn’t a given despite Orange’s 3-11 record (2-6 OCC Capital). Mount Vernon came out flat once again and had only two hits — singles by Karina Shackle and Kate Reynolds — in the first three innings. Fortunately, Marcum kept the Pioneers off balance with a good mix of pitches. Orange had just two hits in the first three innings as well.
Things began to change in the top of the fourth, however. Marcum began to struggle, walking leadoff batter Tyler Folds. Katie Moran then stepped in and belted an RBI double to right-center to plate Folds. The Jackets got out of the inning after two pop-ups and a strikeout, but not before Marcum walked another batter.
Mount Vernon took advantage of a leadoff error in the bottom of the inning that allowed Marcum to reach. Victoria Queen dropped down one of the Jackets’ three sacrifice bunts on the day, advancing courtesy runner Courtney Clark. A fielder’s choice by Abby Lyons moved Clark to third before Reynolds belted an RBI triple to bring her home. That tied the game at 1, which is where the inning ended after Orange pitcher Mason Robinson got a pop-up in foul territory to end the inning.
“Once they scored first, we knew we had to get back at them,” Scott said. “We had to keep the ball moving.”
“Little things are huge,” Mount Vernon coach Carisa Frysinger said. “Advancing a runner can change the outcome of a game, especially in a one-run ball game. If you get a base hit, that’s another run.”
Orange wasn’t down on the offensive side. Marcum continued to struggle to find the strike zone, and walked the first two batters in the fifth. One was erased on the base paths after getting caught off first, but the other came around to score after Abby Davidson hit a deep shot over the right-center field fence. Despite her arm tiring, struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Once again, Mount Vernon had an answer for the Pioneers. A single and a fielding error left Ashton Bogo on second base to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Raven Farley reached on a fielder’s choice. Both runners were safe after Bogo stayed just close to the bag at second to draw the throw. Scott advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, but there they stayed after Robinson got Shackle swinging for the second out of the inning. That brought Marcum up to the plate. She battled her counterpart to a full count before launching her shot of the right-center field fence.
Marcum and her Jacket teammates then went out and finished the game, getting out of jams in both the sixth and seventh innings.
“We really had to work as a team,” said Marcum. “As the game went on, we realized that we needed to play as a team. The first two innings were a little rough, but after that we kind of got our head out of our butts.”
For Frysinger, a win like this was a welcomed sign. Her team hasn’t been playing its best as of late, and to see them fight off a pesky opponent is a positive step.
“A win like this is big because it shows the girls that when you get behind, you can fight and come back,” said Frysinger. “I’ll be honest. I thought we were going to lay down and take a loss, but we didn’t. We fought back and pulled it out. ... When we needed to execute, we executed.”
The Jackets will continue to have a target on their backs the remainder of the season, and they know that. Teams like today’s opponent, Delaware Hayes, will give their best to beat them, especially after Mount Vernon beat them the first time around.
“There is pressure on us because we have already lost the one league game, so we’ve got to win out from here,” said Frysinger. “Delaware is going to want us; every team we play is going to want us because we beat them earlier in the season.”
“This is really big for us,” said Scott. “We need this because everybody wants us now. We’ve only lost once in the OCC, so we really needed this win.”