PICKERINGTON — The Mount Vernon High School softball team found itself locked into a pitcher’s duel in the Division I Central District Semifinal on Tuesday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets managed just two hits on the day against the Upper Arlington Golden Bears, but gave up only one. Unfortunately, Upper Arlington didn’t even need that to take a 1-0 win over Mount Vernon.
“You’re not going to get anybody on base, you’re not going to get anyone in scoring position, you’re not going to push anything across if you don’t get any hits,” said Mount Vernon coach Carisa Frysinger. “It was frustrating. We just weren’t adjusting. We told them to move up in the box, raise their hands, lay off of the rise ball.”
Golden Bears’ pitcher Audrey Plant mastered the Yellow Jackets for seven innings, giving up singles to Natalie Scott and Karina Shackle. She walked none and struck out 17. Mount Vernon pitcher Kylee Marcum, who was playing despite being sick, struggled to find the strike zone and her control. She allowed just one hit in the bottom of the first inning, but walked four and hit three batters. Marcum also struck out six.
“I expected a very tight game, a pitching battle,” said Frysinger. “I didn’t expect us not to hit (Plant) like that.
“Kylee definitely struggled. She has been very sick with an inner ear infection, so her balance and equilibrium were a little off. I don’t know if it was due to the big delay before we played or what, but she got her composure and control back toward the end of the game. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t hit the ball consistently.”
Upper Arlington took advantage of the walks in the bottom of the third inning. Katie Luciano led off with a walk, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mandy Abbruzzese. A wild pitch moved Luciano to third before a walk to Kacey Vazquez put two on. Vazquez took second before Brooke Hauser hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Luciano with what turned out to be the game-winning run. The Golden Bears stranded runners in every inning but one.
The Jacket defense played error-free despite having to shift players around at the last minute. Starting shortstop Victoria Queen was not available to play due to a disciplinary problem at school, so Jessica Wellman shifted to shortstop, Shackle moved to first and Olivia Starmer played third. Also in the outfield, Kate Reynolds shifted to left and Courtney Clark played right. Only Marcum, catcher Abby Lyons and Scott played where they have all season.
“I don’t think moving around our defense affected anything,” Frysinger said. “Every single person stepped it up. Jess Wellman moved to shortstop and I would put her there any day after the way she played today.”
With the win, Upper Arlington advances to the Division I Central District Final to play Gahanna-Lincoln on Thursday. Gahanna beat Groveport-Madison, 2-1, in eight innings on Tuesday.
For Mount Vernon, though, the loss is the end of the line. The game provided valuable experience for the underclassmen, though, the Jackets must say goodbye to four seniors.
“I hope the underclassmen learned a lot from this,” said Frysinger. “They witness the fight and the hunger that for instance Karina Shackle had in the seventh inning. She didn’t want the inning to be over. I think having the junior varsity players here watching will help them make the transition to varsity next year. They’ll be able to realize just how different varsity is and what they have to do to compete at that level.
“We’re definitely going to miss our seniors. They’ve meant a lot to this program. They are my second full class to come through; I know I’m going to miss having them around. Hopefully, they will come back around and not be strangers.”