MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets senior pitcher Hope Straight tossed her second no-hitter in five days, shutting out the visiting Mansfield Senior Tygers, 12-0, in their Ohio Cardinal Conference matchup on Wednesday.
Straight, who fired a no-hitter in a non-conference win over Olentangy Liberty on Friday, was literally unhittable on Wednesday, striking out 13 of the 17 batters that she faced in the five-inning, run-rule shortened game. Straight — an Ohio State commit — who could not pitch due to a shoulder injury last season, threw smoke from start to finish.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Straight said. “I’ve been taking care of my arm. I make sure I ice down after a game. I just need to take care of myself.”
The Tygers only managed to put a few balls in play, but they never got a ball out of the infield.
“I know my teammates have my back,” Straight said. “I never stress about it. Even if I give up a walk or two, my team is always there to support me and that lets me know, ‘You can do this. You got this.’”
The Jackets had 15 hits, including three home runs. Straight drove in three runs and scored twice, hitting a triple, an inside-the-park home run and a sacrifice fly for an RBI. Teammate Macee Marcum hit a solo shot in the first inning. Then she singled and scored in the second.
“I think we did a really good job staying focused this game and just putting the ball in play like we needed to,” Marcum said. “They made a few pretty good plays that stop us from doing our job.”
Annie Neipling singled and doubled twice for the Jackets, getting an RBI and scoring twice. Maddy Burdette hit an RBI double, reached on an error and scored twice. Brooke Radermacher belted a 3-run homer, which gave the Jackets a 9-0 lead in the second inning.
Also for Mount Vernon, Bryn Elliott got three hits, an RBI and scored once. Carlena Fiorilli got a pair of hits and scored once, while Savvy Blubaugh doubled in the fourth inning.
It was the Jackets’ second win in two days against the Tygers. The Jackets beat them in Mansfield, 23-0, behind the pitching of Marcum, who only gave up one hit.
“It was pretty much the same as when we played them Tuesday night,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Marcum. “The girls did their job. They took care of business.”
Macee Marcum will step into the pitcher’s circle again when the Jackets travel to Pickerington Central on Friday at 5 p.m.
Jackets atop the rankings
MOUNT VERNON — Hope springs eternal — especially when you pair her up with Macee. The dynamic duo of pitchers Hope Straight and Macee Marcum are trying to lead the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets softball team to a state title in 2019. Now, it looks like the rest of the state is catching on. Mount Vernon (12-0, 6-0 OCC) sits atop of the first Ohio High School Softball Coaches Poll for 2019.
With 90 total points in the poll, the only team that even comes close is Lakota East, who is ranked second with 85 points.
Straight (5-0, with a 0.56 ERA) and Macee Marcum (5-0, 2.24 ERA) are backed up by a very capable defense. If there is any pressure in all of this, Marcum isn’t showing it. She is currently hitting a team-leading .649 and has six home runs, along with 19 RBIs, and looks to be taking it all in stride.
“It’s a little bit of pressure, but I think that’s what we need to stay focused, whether we’re winning big, or it’s a tight ballgame,” Macum said. “Even though it’s a lot of pressure, we deserve to be there and we can show that we deserve it.”
Marcum’s slugging percentage of 1.216 is second on the team to Straight’s 1.471. Straight has nine homers and 17 RBIs.
“This year has been amazing,” Straight said. “My coaches, my teammates and everyone else has reminded me that, ‘You got this. You belong here. You’re on this team for a reason.’”
There are an eye-popping array of stats everywhere you look. Outfielder Annie Neipling is hitting .563 in the cleanup spot, for the Jackets. Of her 21 hits, 14 are doubles. She has 18 RBIs this season. Second baseman Megan Pentz carries a .457 average, driving in 11 runs and scoring 15. Centerfielder Brooke Radermacher is also having a superb season, hitting .400 with six homers and 19 RBIs.
Those simple stats and a smothering defense are just a sample of what has brought the Jackets to the pinnacle of softball in the state of Ohio. At this level, however, one bad outing can drop a No. 1 team, right out of the top-10.
“I cautioned my players about that,” said Mount Vernon coach Mike Marcum. “This ranking is only a number and it’s anybody’s guess, really. I think we have a humble bunch of kids. They’ve played together for a long time and it’s nice for them to get that recognition, but we still have to win games and that takes more than just skill. It also takes a little luck.”
This is a group of players that has been together for years. Their dedication to the game may only be outstripped by their dedication to each other.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” Macee Marcum said. “We’ve been working towards that since our freshman year. Now, it’s finally here so, it’s time to prove to everybody what we can do.”
Being top dog is something that should be no problem for a team that prides itself on hard work and concentration.
“It’s not a distraction,” Straight said. “It’s a good feeling. Now that we are ranked No. 1, that is something that we can look forward to and something that we will need to work extra hard to keep. We can never let our guard down. We had to work for that and, to keep it, we will need to work harder.”