MARION — The Marion softball team wasted little time in putting its Williamson County rivalry game against Herrin out of reach on Wednesday.
The Wildcats pounced on the Tigers for eight runs in the first frame and cruised to an 11-1 victory in five innings.
Herrin hurler Ali Paintner retired the first two Marion batters she faced in the opening inning. The floodgates opened after that.
Keira Hance hit what seemed to be harmless two-out single, but Devon Davis followed with a two-run homer for the Wildcats. After a pair of walks, Kelsi Cutsinger smashed a two-run double for a 4-0 advantage.
“I think we kind of like to thrive off each other, and it’s a vibe,” said Marion coach Joy Neal. “If the first person gets on, we try to just keep it going.”
Marion certainly kept it going in the first inning. The bottom of the order contributed three hits and four RBIs. Morgan Andrews produced a two-run single for a 6-0 lead.
Morgan Dodd and Hannah Nalley also tallied run-scoring hits for Marion.
In the pitching circle, Ivy Smart performed very well. She allowed just one run on four hits.
“Ivy came on strong today, and she did a really good job of hitting her spots,” Neal said. “She came through for us at the plate as well.”
Smart crushed a solo homer off of Calli Sutcliffe over the left field fence and onto the tennis courts in the bottom of the fourth inning. That made it a 9-1 ball game.
Dodd delivered an RBI double in the fifth, and Smart knocked the game-winning run in during that frame as well.
“It proves that it doesn’t matter where you are in the lineup, you have a job, and everyone can hit,” Neal said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re batting first or you’re batting ninth.”
Herrin just couldn’t get the bats going on this day. The Tigers loaded the bases in the third inning, but were only able to manage one run, which scored on a wild pitch.
Despite missing games because of the rainy weather, the Wildcats continue to roll. This was Marion’s ninth win a row.
“These ladies have done a pretty good job of staying together and having a few team-first meetings,” Neal said. “We were able to touch on what it means to be a great teammate. It showed today. Our dugout was great. That surged onto the field. It was all-around just a great day today.”