The Marion softball team moved to 2-0 on the season after shutting out Anna-Jonesboro 16-0 on Friday.
A-J falls to 0-2 and have been outscored 30-2 so far through two games. Marion’s pitching attack held A-J to just one hit in Friday’s win.
“We’re a very young team to start off with and all I told my girls that we’re going to have to keep working and getting better,” said A-J coach Rodney Seip. “Obviously, Marion is a very good team and we knew that coming in today and knew what we were up against. We just got to take the opportunity to come out here and try to compete and work and learn every day.”
Andrea Roberts started for Marion and retired the first seven batters she faced. Roberts struck out a batter per inning before Lori Cox replaced her in the fourth. Cox sat down the next six batters she faced before the game was called at the end of the fifth.
“I thought Andrea did a really good job commanding her pitches today as well as coming in focused during the first inning,” said Marion coach Joy Neal. “Lori came in and gave us a little relief and I was pretty pleased with our pitchers today.”
Roberts pitched three innings with three strikeouts and one walk. She allowed A-J’s only hit of the game to sophomore Petey Foster in the third inning but worked her way out of any potential trouble.
Cox came in and dealt two scoreless innings for Marion with two strikeouts in the fourth, and then her third of the game in the final inning.
“We’re very inexperienced with our hitting right now and some of our other hitters just didn’t hit today,” said Seip. “We got the one hit from Foster who snuck one past the third baseman and that was our opportunity to score after we got her to second base but we just didn’t swing the bat well today period.”
Marion started off the first inning with three extra base hits from Keira Nance, Hannah Nalley and Morgan Andrews. All three came around to score for the Wildcats in what turned out to be a four-run inning. Roberts hit out of the No. 6 spot and delivered a triple to help her own cause before Karris Rhine brought her home with an RBI base hit.
Plate discipline was a main focus for Marion. Their hitters saw a lot of pitches and made A-J pay when they put a pitch anywhere near the strike zone.
“It’s important for hitters to be coachable and to have the ability to make adjustments against different pitchers, like the one we saw today,” said Neal. “Sometimes you have to relax and see the pitch and make sure that you have your timing down. Sometimes it’s all about your timing at the plate rather than having to fix every little part of your swing and I really thought we did a good job of adjusting. Obviously, looking at the score they were able to find that adjustment and execute so I’m really proud of them for that.”
Marion then tacked on three more runs in the second inning extending their lead to 7-0. The trio of Hance (3), Nalley (4) and Andrews (3) combined for 10 of the Wildcats 16 runs. Hance finished 3-for-3 at the plate and was a home run shy of the cycle.
Andrews then delivered the nail in the coffin, when she cleared the fences with a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Hance was able to reach base following a two-out error by A-J’s shortstop. Nalley then reached base on her second hit of the game and that led to Andrews clearing the bases.
That was part of a four-run inning by Marion. That made it a 13-0 ballgame and the Wildcats added three more runs in the fifth.
“We’re on a high right now acting like a sisterhood and I want to keep going for the rest of the season,” said Neal.
Marion is on the road today at 11 a.m. against Belleville East.
“I think this will be a good game for us to come in on a high getting ready to play a metro team,” said Neal. “Playing Belleville East is a good measure for us to see where we’re at and what we need to work on because you don’t learn a whole lot when you’re winning everything.”
Anna-Jonesboro is traveling to take on Scott City at 11 a.m. today.