Mount Vernon Mustangs athletic standout, Maia Bentley, is about to enter her junior year at the school. Though technically not an upperclassman just yet, Bentley has certainly made an impact on the teams she’s been on.
A couple months back, she could be found on the soccer field, scoring a whole lot of the team’s goals.
More recently, she can be found on the softball field for the Mustangs, again one of her team’s scoring leaders.
That is, if she isn’t watching her brother play baseball, as she was when we caught up to her.
The baseball team was playing Clear Creek-Amana, and, as Bentley put it, “they’re pretty good.”
Bentley had just played her first and second games on the new Mount Vernon softball field, a state-of-the-art facility sandwiched between Mount Vernon High School and Cornell College that is outfitted with astroturf — somewhat of an adjustment for the conference champion Mustangs.
Bentley put the new field to the test during the doubleheader with the Benton Bobcats by, among other things, sliding into second base and diving to make a catch in her capacity as shortstop.
“The ball just moves a lot faster, so I guess then you move a lot faster, too,” said Bentley of the turf. “It’s an exciting adjustment, but it’s just a little bit different.
“The biggest adjustment, I think, for our team, is just to slide sooner. When you slide on dirt, you stop a lot sooner. So you have to make that adjustment when you’re going into the base. So, you slide later than you would when you’re on the turf,” Bentley said.
Their July 1 home game, a two-victory doubleheader win over the Benton Bobcats — was officially their first home game of the season, though a game at Marion and a game at Davis Park were also considered home games.
“We’re so lucky to have gotten the money to be able to redo it. And I think all of us are just in the state of mind of being very grateful.”
Bentley is in her second year of varsity play. She started varsity her freshman year, had the year off last year with the rest of the world, and is now back as a junior.
It’s been a fruitful season for Bentley, who had already had seven home runs at the time of her interview. This includes three at Marion alone.
“The three I had at Marion were pretty solid hits,” she admitted.
However, Bentley gets more excited about what it does for the team rather than her statistics.
When one of her hits goes over the fence, “The feeling I get the most is just excited to be able to get another run in for my team, or a few more runs. Because sometimes those games are pretty close, and it’s just nice to be able to put one over the fence and have a run in, guaranteed,” she said.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, her favorite game of the season would be the second game against Marion.
“We worked so well together, and even when Marion got up a run, we trusted in each other and knew that we could get it done,” said Bentley.
Amid all the excitement of the season, Bentley singled out her teammates as being the best part of the 2021 season.
“We’ve had quite a lot of games in a short amount of time,” she said.
“I feel like at that point, some teams might get a little testy with each other, or get frustrated. But with our team, we came each day, and I felt like we were truly excited to be there.”