Marion High School head softball coach Chad Adkins had an air of satisfaction as he leaned against the dugout wall Thursday following 5-2 and 13-2 victories over visiting Ellinwood.
“We look like a softball team — it’s kinda cool,” a smiling Adkins said.
“We’ve always had the skill to be really competitive, but we’ve made a lot of mistakes,” Adkins said. “Now we’re not making those mistakes, and we’re getting better.”
Marion turned around a rocky 0-4 start to the season earlier in the week with two wins at Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson, and the victories against Ellinwood evened the team’s season record at 4-4.
The Lady Warriors’ progress was most evident in the early innings of the second game against Ellinwood.
The Lady Eagles threatened to get off to a fast start in the first inning when they scored two runs on a triple with one out. Marion pitcher Megan Richmond got the next batter to hit a roller back to the mound, which she rifled over to Montana Percell for one out. An alert Percell immediately threw the ball to catcher Jaydee Schafers at home to cut down the runner trying to score from third and end the inning.
In the second inning, Marion once again turned a double-play when right-fielder Megan Davies caught a fly ball and tossed it to Percell to catch an Ellinwood baserunner off base.
“The instinct plays that we work on a lot in practice, they made them tonight – that’s really exciting,” Adkins said. “Those are the plays you’re supposed to make without thinking about them, and they did it tonight. That’s going to take us a long way.”
Marion erupted for 7 runs in the bottom of the second, with Annie Whitaker delivering the key blow, an inside-the-park home run to right field that drove in two other Lady Warriors. Adkins said he had no doubt Whitaker would complete the round-tripper.
“She’s fast enough, and she rips the ball hard. She hit that ball really well,” Adkins said.
Andrea Nordquist and Percell hit doubles in the game, and Richmond ended the contest in the fifth inning when she ripped a double past the Ellinwood shortstop for two RBIs that gave Marion a 13-2 lead, enough to invoke the 10-run rule.
Richmond picked up the wins for both games, and she gave credit to the defensive play behind her.
“Everyone was where they should be, and we did a lot better than we have been in the past,” Richmond said.
Practices have been intense, but Richmond said the work is starting to pay off.
“We needed it, and we’re getting there. We’re working more as a team,” Richmond said.
Adkins was pleased to see the reactions the team had to their success.
“They were pumping each other up tonight, they were excited,” Adkins said. “It’s fun winning. This can be infectious. We’re getting there. I can live with better and better.”
The Lady Warriors returned to the diamond Tuesday with home games against Canton-Galva. They will be on the road Friday against Sedgwick.