Mel Kolbusz can’t remember the last time one of his OPRF softball teams began a season 0-2, but unfortunately that time has come. In spite of the rough start, the 19-year veteran skipper isn’t too worried.
The Huskies lost their season opener to Richards 11-8 and dropped their home opener to Leyden 4-3 last week, both close games where rusty fielding came into play. Against Richards, OPRF committed six errors – mostly due to errant throws – all of which led to runs.
“It irks me a little to have so many throwing errors, because we practice it so much,” said Kolbusz, “You want to support your pitcher as much as possible, and we didn’t do that against Richards. But it’s the early season and we’ll snap out of it.”
Sarafina Andreoli pitched the first three innings for the Huskies, allowing eight runs — four earned — off eight hits. She yielded no walks and struckout six. Freshman Emma Baldwin finished the game by allowing three runs — one earned — off three hits. Baldwin didn’t walk anyone either, and fanned two.
OPRF’s bats showed no rust in the season opener. Down 9-1, the Huskies scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning to make things interesting. Ann Ryan, Jasmine Davis, Emily Bacalao and Olivia Shagam all had RBI singles in the frame. In the sixth, Ryan smashed a double for her third hit of the day to put OPRF within 9-8, but Richards scored three runs – two of which came on a sacrifice fly – in the bottom of the inning.
The Huskies lost another barnburner in their home opener a few days later. Despite an excellent outing on the mound by Andreoli, the team was unable get past Leyden. Andreoli fanned nine batters and yielded no walks in a complete game performance. She allowed four runs – three earned – on seven hits.
“Pitching hasn’t been a problem for us in these first two games,” said Kolbusz. “We’re doing fine in that department. It’s timely hitting and fielding that we need to do a better job at.”
Leyden’s April Markowski blasted two homers in the game, one in the first inning and another in the third. OPRF outhit its opponent 8-7, but stranded 11 runners, including situations where bases were loaded in the first and sixth innings.
“Leaving the bases loaded in one inning of a game is bad enough, but doing it twice; that’s something you can’t do and expect to win a close game,” said Kolbusz.
With two outs in the second, Maureen Puccetti drove in OPRF’s first run off a single. In the third, Kelly O’Meara battled to a 3-2 count and rocketed a sharp line drive to right center to drive in Kelly O’Meara from second base.
The Huskies looked as if they were about to break open the game in the sixth when Shagam led off with a single, Kaitlin Bell doubled and Puccetti drove in a run on a single. With two outs and bases loaded, Bacalao hit a line drive to right center, but the shot was snagged by Leyden’s diving right fielder.
“If you’re going to lose on a play, that was a good play to lose on,” said Kolbusz, who was impressed by the catch. “She earned it by making that catch.”
With the talent and skill level on his team this season, Kolbusz said he’s optimistic OPRF will turn things around soon. “The objective is to get better. The wins will come if that happens.”
OPRF’s game against Morton on March 23 was cancelled due to cold weather, as was Friday’s game at Riverside-Brookfield. The Huskies are scheduled to travel to Wheaton Warrenville South today (Wednesday, March 30) for a doubleheader and Lake Park for a DH on Saturday. They host cross-town rival Fenwick on April 5 (4:30 p.m.).