OPRF        10
Downers N. 0 (6 inn.)

The OPRF softball team was prepped and ready for a full-slate of games last week, but the dismal weather only allowed for two. So, the Huskies entered this week – blue skies in the forecast for the most part – with another busy schedule. If all goes as planned, the team should cap off a string of seven-straight games this week with a doubleheader showdown at home against a loaded Lockport squad on Saturday (10 a.m.).

The Porters (15-2) began the season ranked No. 1 by several newspapers. With the help of star pitcher Alyssa Vorel (7-0), the team has since managed to stay ranked in the top 10.

Not only do the Huskies (15-5) have a slew of challenging games this week, the playoff seedings are set to post on Thursday, adding more pressure for the team. This season, OPRF has been placed in a different sectional by the IHSA, something that does not sit well with head coach Mel Kolbusz.

“We’ve now been shipped up north, which is going to make for long traveling,” he said. “In year’s past, we’ve played the regional at Fenwick and sectional at Morton, which was within our proximity. Now, it appears we may have to play at Glenbrook North.”

Loyola, who edged the Huskies 3-1 earlier this season, is likely to be the front-runner for the No. 1 seed.

“We need to win this week for sure,” said Kolbusz before the start of the week.

The Huskies clobbered Downers Grove North 10-0 in six innings last week before the rains washed out Friday’s West Suburban (Silver) Conference game against Glenbard West. Rachel Gillette tossed the shutout, yielding just four hits on the day. She fanned 10.

The Huskies scattered 15 hits in the onslaught, including Lauren Flannery’s two that drove in three runs. Flannery is currently leading the team in RBIs with 23. Janie Brennan went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Mara Blesoff finished 2-for-3 with two runs. Megan White went 2-for-4 and drove in a run for the Huskies, who blew open the game in the third inning.

Maggie Paoli drove in OPRF’s first two runs of the game with a single. The Huskies went on to score three more runs in the inning. The victory pushed OPRF’s conference record to a perfect 4-0.

On April 28, the Huskies downed York 7-2. Leah Bry earned her eighth win on the mound by yielding two earned runs off seven hits in seven innings. She struck out 10.

Flannery got the Huskies on the board in the first with an RBI single. In the fourth, Marisa Belpedio singled up the middle to score White, who had reached with a walk to leadoff the inning.

York scored one in the fourth and one in the fifth to notch the game at 2-2. But in the seventh, OPRF scored five runs to seal the victory. Flannery had another RBI single and White tripled to drive in two more. With two outs and bases loaded, Hannah Press singled in two runs.

“That was a really nice rally for us late in the game,” said Kolbusz. “All season we have been struggling to hit with people on base and finally we did it. It was nice to see. Hopefully, we can continue to do that now and into the playoffs.”

The state playoffs begin May 25. OPRF is vying for its seventh state tournament appearance in nine years. The program won the state championship in 2005.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...