Hitting her way to the record books

Skylan Akins

Mt. Vernon junior Payge Evans smiles with her state championship medal and the ball used for her 76th hit of the season, breaking an eight-year state record held by Joplin’s Makenzie Goswick. Evans will have another opportunity to write her name in the Missouri record book for hits in a career.

Mt. Vernon's Evans adds to historic season with state record

It has been well documented that the 2023 Mt. Vernon Lady Mt’neer softball team had a season for the ages, resulting in the program’s second state championship. Junior infielder Payge Evans added to the historic season in the state championship game by breaking the state record with 76 hits ON THE SEASON?.
Evans came into the championship game needing two hits to claim the record. An infield single to third base in the second inning gave the junior the honor of tying Joplin’s Makenzie Goswick’s 2015 mark. Evans had her first opportunity to break the record in the fourth inning but would fly out to center. Another at bat was in jeopardy as she was due up fifth in Mt. Vernon’s final at-bat. After Lady Mt'neer Cheyenne Bieber recorded out number one, Hali Stokes was hit by a pitch and Ava Bellis singled, to all but guarantee one last opportunity for Evans. After an Ally Burk strikeout, Payge would beat out yet another infield single for the record breaking hit.
“It was amazing. I didn’t know I was close until one of my teachers accidentally told me when it was supposed to be a secret, but it doesn’t take anything away from it. It was a special moment for me not just breaking the record but knowing that me and my teammates were closing in on a state championship,” Evans said the following the game.
“Her speed is just unreal. She has been the table setter for us all year and has been the engine that made us go," said head coach Matt Schubert. "You could tell when she was on at times during the season it seemed like she never got out.”
Schubert was just as nervous as anyone as the sixth inning came around.
“I told the girls just give Payge one more at bat and give her a chance," he said. "Some knew what I was talking about. Some had no clue. The girls did a good job of giving her that opportunity and she was flying down the line.”
This season truly was historic as this offense rewrote not just the school record book, but also the state record book. On top of Evans breaking the overall hit record, she also finished in the top 5 with 59 singles. Senior pitcher Harley Daniels finished tied for third all-time with 29 wins in the circle for the season.
As a team, the offense broke the 2021 Chillicothe hit record by 42 hits, with a grand total of 453. They also broke the state record for doubles (112, previously 96) and triples (38, previously 36). They finished second in singles (286, record being 297), extra base hits (167, record being 182), and earned run average (1.52, record being .110) They also finished third in RBIs (325, record being 350), and slugging percentage (.673, record being .750) among being top five in many other statistics.
The most encouraging thing from this season though, is eight of the 10 players to appear in more than 30 games will return for the 2024 campaign. As the light from this season begins to fade to black, the promise of next year's potential is bright white.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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