Marion High School Athletics


Marion softball sweeps Searcy at home

Photo Credit: Londa Hamrick


Marion softball entered 2023 with high expectations, such as earning a conference title and making a deep run in the state playoffs. The Patriots convincingly took their first steps toward both of those goals on Tuesday afternoon. Marion never trailed Searcy on a chilly spring afternoon at Marion Sports Complex, and the Patriots improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in 5A East action on the strength of 6-3 and 12-6 victories in the teams' league-opening doubleheader. MARION 6, SEARCY 3 Marion muscled out nine hits in Tuesday's lid-lifter against Searcy, including two apiece from seniors McKenzie Shinabery (2-4 against Searcy in Game 1 with an RBI and a run scored), Brianna Morquecho (2-4 with two RBI and a run), and junior Kelsey Eppes (2-3 with a run). Senior Kelsey Baker made the most of her 1-3 day at the plate, crushing a two-run home run. While many players contributed at the dish, senior Anna Murphy went the distance inside the circle for Marion. The southpaw threw a complete game at the Lions, surrendering nine hits and three earned runs while striking out four. Murphy did not allow a run over the game's first five innings. A scoreless game moved into the bottom of the third when Marion finally broke through when Murphy walked before giving way to courtesy runner Alexis Jones, who promptly stole second base. Following a Claire Hall sac bunt, Shinabery plated Jones with a scorched single up the middle and Marion enjoyed a 1-0 lead after three frames. Eppes went to work in the bottom of the fourth when she struck a one-out double, and Murphy delivered Eppes with a double of her own for a 2-0 Marion advantage entering the fifth inning. Morquecho sparked a fifth-inning rally when she singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a passed ball, but she was able to walk home when Baker crushed her first home run of the season, a mammoth shot that gave the hosts a 4-0 lead. Searcy struck for three runs in the top of the fifth to crawl within 4-3, but the Marion response was swift. Hall launched a two-out rally when she singled to right field before giving way to courtesy runner Maddie Cupples, who advanced to second on a Shinabery single. That set the stage for Morquecho, who stroked a double to center field that split the gap and delivered Cupples and Shinabery to the plate for a 6-3 lead. Murphy made it stand up in the top of the seventh when she retired Searcy in order to earn her second victory of the spring. MARION 12, SEARCY 6 Marion's offensive performance in the opener paled in comparison to what the Patriots had in store for the nightcap. Playing as the visitors on the scoreboard and on the field, Marion exploded for 18 hits and 12 runs in the second game against Searcy as Baker (3-3 with three runs and three RBI in the second Searcy game) and Eppes (3-5 with three RBI) each logged three hits, with each hitting a pair of doubles. Shinabery (2-5 with two runs and an RBI), Morquecho (2-5 with two runs and an RBI), catcher Jacey Holder (2-4 batting), Murphy (2-4 with two RBI and a run scored) and Hall (2-3 with an RBI and a walk) each recorded multiple hits. Murphy and Baker stroked triples. Morquecho, Baker, Ella McConnell, and Eppes each recorded stolen bases. Marion scored in every inning of the second game except the fourth frame, by which time the Pats led 4-2. Junior all-conference performer Anna Hitchman earned the start in the second game against Searcy, picking up the victory by going the distance and allowing six runs with five strikeouts. Morquecho started the scoring in the top of the first when she singled and scored on Baker's double, and Marion's lead reached 3-0 in the top of the second when Holder singled before Jones took over at first, and Jones came around on Murphy's triple. Hall delivered Murphy with a single to cap the second-inning Marion rally. Searcy got two runs back in the bottom of the second, but Marion rallied up in the third when Murphy's single chased in Baker for a 4-2 lead. Baker tripled to lead off the fifth inning and Eppes quickly brought her around with a single and a 5-2 Marion bulge entering the bottom of the fifth. Hall led off the sixth with a single before freshman Olivia Morquecho, sister to Brianna, took over at first. Olivia Morquecho went first to third on Shinabery's single, and the freshman scored on Brianna Morquecho's groundout. Hitchman helped her own cause when she drove in Shinabery with a single and a 7-2 Marion advantage. Sophomore Chloe Miller sparked the decisive rally in the top of the seventh when she struck a solid one-out single just before Hall coaxed a walk, giving Marion two on with just one out. That's when Shinabery delivered Miller with a hit before Brianna Morquecho singled to load the bags. With two outs and the bags full of Patriots, Baker poled a double to center field that plated Shinabery and Brianna Morquecho, while Hitchman stopped at third with a 10-2 Marion lead. Eppes promptly plated Hitchman and Baker with a double on the first pitch to give Marion a 12-2 lead that it would not relinquish. WHAT'S NEXT? Marion hosts Briarcrest Christian on Tuesday, March 21 for a 4:30 first pitch at Marion Sports Complex. The day will feature the varsity first, followed by a junior varsity contest. 5A EAST RESULTS FROM MARCH 14 Marion 6, Searcy 3 Marion 12, Searcy 6 Greene Co. Tech 12, Nettleton 3 Greene Co. Tech 16, Nettleton 1 Valley View 15, W. Memphis 1 Valley View 18, W. Memphis 1 Paragould 12, Batesville 1 Batesville 8, Paragould 6 5A EAST STANDINGS AS OF MARCH 15 SCHOOL CONF. RECORD (Top 4 make state playoffs at Marion) Marion 2-0 Valley View 2-0 Greene Co. Tech 2-0 Paragould 1-1 Batesville 1-1 Searcy 0-2 Nettleton 0-2 W. Memphis 0-2

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