New Palestine head coach Ed Marcum knows talent when he sees it. A three-time softball state championship coach, it didn’t take much for Center Grove’s Mallory Baker to earn his respect.
After Baker and the eventual Class 4A state champion Center Grove Trojans eliminated his Dragons in the sectional title game last month, nothing changed, Marcum said.
If anything, it strengthened his opinion.
On Saturday during the 2015 Indiana All-Star Classic at the Cherry Tree Softball Complex when Baker was named co-Indiana Miss Softball with Portage’s Kiley Jones, it didn’t come as a much of a surprise to Marcum.
If made perfect sense.
“The kid had a great year, and it’s certainly well deserved,” he said. “She proved it to me in our sectional championship. We couldn’t get her out.”
Finishing that sectional game 4 for 5 as Center Grove rallied back from a 4-1 deficit to win 8-7 in nine innings, Baker, a catcher, was a driving force behind her team’s sixth state title run in school history.
The Purdue recruit hit .560 in her final season at Center Grove and drove in a team-leading 43 runs. In 31 games, she clubbed six home runs and scored 39 runs with her final one coming against Lake Central in her team’s 6-2 win in the state championship.
“It’s an honor. Obviously, it’s something you work toward your whole life, and you never think it’s going to become a reality. Kiley (Jones) is such an awesome player. It’s an honor to be next to her,” Baker said.
Travel ball teammate and fellow South All-Star, Adie Lorsung of New Palestine was one of the first to congratulate Baker during the award ceremony held between the all-star doubleheader.
“Honestly, she had no idea she was going to get it or not,” Lorsung said. “She kind of told herself, jokingly, ‘I hope winning state helps.’ We all told her she would.
“When they called her name, I think she was shocked and happy at the same time. We were all happy for her.”
Center Grove finished the season 29-2, winning its first state title since 2009 and second in 4A. Prior to 2009, the same year New Palestine won in 3A, the Trojans won two 3A championships in 1998 and 2003.
Jones, who is Loyala-bound this fall, was named First-Team All-State along with Baker. She finished her season campaign with a 21-4 record and 205 strikeouts as the team’s ace.
This year marks the first time the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association has awarded the honor to two players. Previous ties in voting were broken to decide a single honoree.
Indiana Miss Softball Winners
1993: Stacy Hrabota, Valparaiso
1994: Jenny Schoen, Carmel
1995: Leslie Rossa, Lake Central
1996: Crystal Inman, Shenandoah
1997: LeAnne Eddington, Cathedral
1998: Jaime Rassmussen, Whiteland
1999: Wendy Cannon, Portage
2000: Mary Blessing, Decatur Central
2001: Megan Ciolli, Terre Haute North
2002: Amy Kendall, Fort Wayne Northrop
2003: Brooke Baker, Lake Central
2004: Darcy Wood, Center Grove
2005: Katie Mitchell, Lake Central
2006: Jessica Breeden, Martinsville
2007: Morgan Melloh, Hamilton Southeastern
2008: Tori Collins, McCutcheon
2009: Jenny Esparza, Avon
2010: Morgan Lewis, Lutheran
2011: Katie Harrison, Noblesville
2012: Brooke Boetjer, South Putnam
2013: Kendra Lynch, Roncalli
2014: Erin Rethlake, Huntington North
2015: Kiley Jones, Portage/Mallory Baker, Center Grove