MOUNT VERNON — Several of the area softball teams have had a successful first half of the season, and some of that can be credited to the group of power hitters in the area.
Mount Vernon’s Hope Straight had a lot to prove coming into this year. A season ago, she launched 22 home runs to finish second in Ohio High School history in home runs in a single season, only behind Carly Wagers (Williamsburg), who had 23 homers in 2017.
“There wasn’t really any expectation,” Straight said of coming into the 2019 season. “I had a really good season last year offensively. I just know no matter what I need to preform both defensively and offensively this year. I’m just looking to advance runners and advance myself 60 feet. If a home run happens, it happens.”
Even though she did not feel any pressure or have any expectations, Straight has been keeping pace this spring. In 12 games so far this year, the senior who is committed to Ohio State University, has launched 10 bombs. With the continued success, she said she doesn’t step to the plate with the idea of a home run.
“When I step in the box, it’s more I need to move the runners, it doesn’t matter if we’re up 20-0,” Straight said. “It’s to move the runners and have them advance to each base and just get on for your team. Someone behind me will score me if I don’t hit a home run.”
Straight is the leadoff hitter for the Jackets this year. As the first Mount Vernon batter to try to get her bat on the ball, it is a matter of just getting on base, whether its scoring on one swing, or getting to first.
“As a leadoff batter, no matter what, you need to make sure you advance at least 60 feet and set the tone for the game,” Straight said. “It could be a home run or a single, no matter what, you just set the tone.”
Straight has a knack for home runs, but she is not the only power hitter on her own team. She has a pair of teammates, Macee Marcum and Brooke Radermacher, who each have six home runs so far this spring. Maddy Burdette also had two homers on the year.
“I’ve just been seeing the ball really well, and knowing that if I hit a home run or if I get on base, somebody behind me is going to hit me in, no question,” Marcum said of the reasons for her success this year.
The Jackets are off to an incredible start this spring, recently ranked No. 1 in the state by the Ohio Softball Coaches Association with a 12-0 record. With a strong lineup from top to bottom, the pressure is not on any individual to win the game.
“It’s really helpful knowing that you’re not trying to a win a game by yourself, but that everybody is contributing,” Marcum said. “It’s easier when you’re up to bat.”
The Jackets do not have a monopoly on power hitters in the area. Utica junior Scarlett Elliott started off the season with a homer in each of the Redskins’ first six games and now sits at 10 home runs on the year. She was unable to reach double-digit homers a year ago, but used her hot start and is already past that mark this year.
“I’ve just been really trying to keep my back shoulder up and keep my bat through the plane really well,” Elliott said. “It’s been a really good start to the season for me, so I’m excited to try to keep it going.”
She has a pair of teammates in Taylor Heckman and Shayla Estep who each have three home runs this spring as well.
Also in the record books, the Cardington Pirates are now atop the record for team home runs in a game, with nine against Northmor on April 6. Baylee Adams and Casey Bertke each had a trio of shots, while Kierson George had two and Dana Bertke chipped in a homer. The Pirates broke the record of eight set by Versailles against Minster in 2013. Casey Bertke also had a home run against Highland that went over the fence, over a dugout and onto the nearby baseball field.
Elsewhere around the area, Fredericktown’s Alyssa Perkins has five homers and Ashlee Montalvo has three. Noa Sesma is leading the Trojans with three deep shots and Kaitlyn Tenzos has another two. Highland is led by Kaitlyn Carney’s four and Haven Farson’s two. McKinley Alberts (Danville), Mya Gonsalves (East Knox) and Abby Bailey (East Knox) all have two so far this spring.
No matter the scenario, the idea at the plate is to advance 60 feet, but a deep shot is a bonus.
“A base hit is great, but if it goes over, that’s even better,” Elliott said with a laugh.