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MOUNT ZION – Mount Zion's softball team has several seniors committed to the next level.

Sophomore catcher Dayna Kennedy blends right in with them.

Kennedy, an Illinois State University commit herself, smashed two home runs while Class 3A Mount Zion throttled 2A Teutopolis 15-3 in five innings in the Braves' home opener on a gusty Friday afternoon.

“That's a good thing,” Mount Zion coach Greg Blakey said. “She's a sophomore so I'll have her around for more years, thank goodness.”

She quickly ignited the Braves in the first inning and struck a changeup over the center field fence for a two-run jack and a 2-0 lead.

By the end of the second inning, Mount Zion (2-0) mustered 10 hits and a 9-0 lead.

“I thought our warmup was pretty good, so I knew we were going to come out and play a good game,” Kennedy said. “I'm excited to come out this year because we're going to be really good with all of our starters back.”

The 5-foot-11 Kennedy then capped the game like how she started it with another two-run homer in the fourth inning. She ultimately finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and four runs.

Maybe it helped to have a howling wind to her back. But both times it didn't seem to matter.

They would've carried regardless.

“This is the windiest place on earth I think,” Blakey said. “So when the ball goes up, sometimes it does go. But I think all of our homers were pretty legit tonight.”

It wasn't Kennedy's first multi-homer game.

She totaled nine home runs with a .407 batting average last year.

“A lot of potential there,” Blakey said. “I think there's a lot of potential she hasn't tapped into yet to be honest. But she works very hard and there's not many kids who work as hard as she does in-season and off-season too."

Is she the biggest slugger on the team?

“Eh, there's a bunch of other ones who hit it hard too,” Kennedy said.

Four other players also managed at least two hits in the game for Mount Zion: Alli Davis, Delaney Sarff, Camryn Skundberg and Hannah Watts.

Skundberg stayed perfect at the plate with another 3-for-3 performance with three RBIs and two runs.

“Four runs and the home run by Dayna was a huge start (in the first inning) and kind of set them on their heels a little bit,” Blakey said. “It's always nice to come out with confidence and hit the ball well.”

Bill's take

Morgan in control

Mount Zion pitcher Maddie Morgan quickly recovered after an error by the shortstop in the first inning and dominated the entire way.

She stranded runners on first and second base in the first stanza and gave up just three hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts in a complete game.

“Today was probably the best day I've seen her throw in three years as a varsity player,” Blakey said of Morgan. “I thought she had great command. She gave up a couple of home runs, but that's part of the deal sometimes. It's probably the hardest I've seen her throw in three years she's been here. The confidence on the mound was huge for her.”

Growing pains

Teutopolis (2-1) revealed its youth and inexperience against a seasoned Mount Zion team.

The Shoes feature only four seniors and it particularly showed on defense.

Teutopolis committed four costly errors in the loss.

“They're a good team,” Teutopolis senior outfielder Jessica Drees said of Mount Zion, “but I think our biggest trouble was routine defense. We needed to make routine plays and that would've prevented some runs. But they're a very good team.”

Jessica Drees was one of the few bright spots with two hits, including a two-run home run in the third inning that narrowed the gap 9-2.

Lauren Hemmen delivered a solo shot in the fourth.

“We're just new,” Drees said. “Everybody's trying new positions and it's just different. But we can do it.”

Quotable

“I was excited because obviously it was Friday. I was ready to play.” – Kennedy

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