Baseball Playoff Preview
The OPRF baseball team has a rough road ahead if they want to play at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva at the IHSA Class AA State Baseball tournament for the third time in five years.
The Huskies (20-11, 9-7), who made it as far as the state quarterfinals last year and a runner-up finish in 2001, struggled to stay consistent this season. The good news is it seems the team has worked out some of its quirks?#34;unstable pitching, untimely hitting and lackluster fielding. Pitchers Neil Mejia and Ricky Foytik have impressed head coach Chris Ledbetter late in the season.
“We took some losses, but the pitching was solid and that was good to see with the playoffs coming,” said Ledbetter two weeks ago.
On May 5, Mejia, a junior, gave up only a run on six hits in a 6-1 pasting of Andrew. He fanned four and walked one in seven innings.
“I think he has improved tremendously from the start of the season,” said Ledbetter after the win. “In fact, I think the entire team has improved.”
The Huskies are likely to dismantle opponents in their own regional beginning today (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.) against either Prosser or Steinmetz. Along with its pitching, OPRF’s bats have come alive. Andrew Hagins leads the Huskies at the plate, batting a whopping .530. When opponents have tried to avoid Hagins with an intentional walk, they’ve run into Nick VomBrack, who is batting .450 with a team-high five home runs.
The sectional title game is possibly the only place where the No. 1-seeded Huskies might run into trouble. Depending upon whether or not Fenwick breezes through its own regional, the Friars will have home field advantage in the sectional. There’s no question the rivalry will still have its pop, despite both teams not being as strong as in year’s past.
The Friars, who back in April briefly cracked the top 10 ranking by the Chicago Tribune, dipped to 13-16 on the season last week. Two teams that could thwart a cross-town showdown are Lane or Gordon Tech. Lane is the No. 3 seed in the sectional behind Fenwick, who downed Gordon Tech 10-7 back in late-March.