It may have taken a few innings for the bats to wake up, but once they did the Lady Celts offense started rolling in Tuesday’s home win against West Salem.
In a scoreless game, McNary put runs on the board in the third, fourth and fifth, ending things 10-0 with a walkoff in the fifth inning.
“Today, the first time through the lineup we had a lot of ground balls there, shortstop made some great plays,” McNary head coach Kelly Parsell said. “I think we know we had the right approach and we just found ways to get ’em through this time, that second time through.”
The game ended on an RBI single from freshman Natalie Macik that scored two and ended with Macik on second.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Macik hit a fly ball to shallow right field that was just out of the reach of a diving right fielder. Fellow freshman Josalyn Netzel scored, and when the throw to second to try and get an advancing Macik went askew, another freshman, Violet Siegel, came around for the 10th and final run of the game.
And while it was a group of freshmen that finished the scoring for McNary, it was a senior that got things started.
Heather Ebner’s three-run home run in the bottom of the third opened the scoring on the day. She smoked the first pitch she saw down the third baseline, just foul and just out of the reach of the West Salem third baseman. Two pitches later, Ebner deposited the ball over the left field fence with a no-doubter off the bat.
“I was just waiting for the pitch to execute it and I didn’t exactly want the one that I lined foul, so I’m glad that it was foul,” Ebner said. “And then I just took the opportunity, the next few pitches, and it worked and my teammates were there for me and I just want to be there for them.”
Ebner’s teammates were waiting for her at home plate, ready to perform their now customary jump and twirl home run celebration.
It’s a scene that’s become more common this season. Last year, while they had a lot of solid hitters, there wasn’t a wealth of power across the Lady Celts lineup. This year though, six McNary players have gone deep.
“It’s pretty cool having such a stacked lineup,” Parsell said. “And I am glad that I am not coaching against my lineup because you get through Ali and you got to face Heather, then you got to face Karah, then you got Lacey, and then you have our 7 8 9 who have also put up some strong numbers or put the ball in play often. So it’s pretty exciting and we love it as coaches.”
It’s not just the coaches that love it. Having a bottom of the order that can produce makes things easier on the middle of that lineup.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air that you are able to rely on your teammates more when the whole entire lineup is solid,” Ebner said.
It wasn’t just the offense that was solid on Tuesday.
Lacey Vasas went five innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out four.
She said she felt confident and refreshed heading into the game, and it showed. In fact, West Salem only managed to get one runner in scoring position, a runner on second with two outs in the fourth inning.
With just two weeks left in the regular season, Vasas and the Lady Celts are prepared to finish off the final six regular season games in preparation for the postseason.
“I’m a senior, it’s my last season with these guys and I just want to make it count and make sure I give the best impression on everyone and make sure I leave my mark,” Vasas said.
And just what is that mark that Vasas hopes to leave?
“I don’t know, I guess I want people to enjoy it, have fun out there,” Vasas said. “Even if we lose, I want them to have fun. I know we’re good. And I know practices can be hard and games can be hard, but even as long as we give it all and that’s all that matters. As long as we have each other and count on each other, it’s all that matters.”
Last season the Lady Celts came a game away from a shot at the state championship. And Parsell said that at times, including Tuesday, she’s felt reminded of last year’s squad.
But Parsell isn’t trying to recreate the 2022 team and season.
“We’re definitely our own team and I think starting to figure things out a little bit later in the season is sometimes nice, but definitely different than last season,” Parsell said. “The start of the season you think, ‘okay, we finished top four in the state, that’s where we got to start.’ And they’re settling into their own team and it’s different and it’s good, it’s good different.”