OPRF assistant softball coach Gary Miller sprinted from his first-base coach’s box down to the dugout after Marisa Belpedio blasted a three-run game-wining homer in the bottom of the sixth inning against West Suburban (Silver) Conference rival Glenbard West on Friday. Miller quickly cutoff his players headed toward homeplate to congratulate their teammate. He didn’t want anyone touching Belpedio before she rounded all the bases. The senior crossed home plate unscathed and the Huskies went on to edge the Hilltoppers 3-2 for their third victory in a row.
Miller’s concern was prompted by what happened the week prior. In a bizarre call during a game against Lyons Township, the umpire called OPRF’s Lauren Flannery out for interference after she hit a home run when one of her teammates touched her before she finished her trot around the bases.
“We weren’t taking any chances this time around,” said OPRF head coach Mel Kolbusz of Miller’s quick-thinking act. “In all my years of coaching, I’ve never seen such a thing called, but we won’t have it happen again that’s for sure.”
Down 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth against the pesky Hilltoppers, the Huskies needed something big to happen. Hannah Press led off the inning with a single, which was followed by Flannery’s fielder’s choice. With runners on first and second and the wind howling from left to right, Belpedio smashed a line-drive shot over the right-center field fence.
“I think that had she hit it to left it may not have gone out with such strong wind gusts,” said Kolbusz, “but she hit it low enough and long enough at the right spot. It’s the big hit we’ve been waiting for all season long.”
The Huskies had struggled a bit of late, getting entangled in a 10-game losing streak before securing three-straight conference victories recently.
Leah Bry (8-10) went the distance for OPRF, allowing the two earned runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking one. Bry, who has pitched in nearly all of OPRF’s games this season, has managed to keep her earned run average below two.
“She’s really doing great considering the innings she’s giving us,” said Kolbusz of his ace. “Without Leah we would not be in good shape at all.”
The Huskies remain in the conference title race with a 3-2 mark. Glenbard West had been undefeated in the conference.
OPRF travels to Downers Grove North, who is also in the running for the top spot in the conference, on Friday for a night game. The Huskies then head to Lockport on Saturday.
“We were going backwards for a while, and now it seems we are making some progress the other way, which is good,” said Kolbusz. “All we need to do is keep this momentum going.”