When it comes to practice and preparation nothing has changed since the OPRF softball program won the Class AA State title in 2005, insists long-time head coach Mel Kolbusz.
“Maybe that’s not a good thing; maybe I should change some things,” says Kolbusz now that his team is off to a frustrating 1-6 record to start the season, the worst in his 18 years as head coach. “I’ve never seen anything like it. This is a great group of athletes, hard working, extremely coachable, but it’s just not happening for us right now.”
On Tuesday on their home field, the Huskies fell to cross-town rival Fenwick 4-2 for the first time since 1994. It marked OPRF’s fifth-straight loss this season.
In doubleheader action over spring break, OPRF was swept by Wheaton Warrenville South — 9-2 and 11-7 — and Lake Park — 8-3 and 10-1.
Kolbusz says he was pleased to see the players call a team meeting after practice on Monday without his goading. “They’re just as frustrated as I am, and they know they’re better than how they’re playing. We’ve gone up against some tough teams, but at one moment a kid is making a great play and then the next moment she’s giving up a run on an error on a routine play. We need to get consistent on the positive side and stay consistent.”
Before taking on Fenwick, OPRF’s main pitcher Sarafina Andreoli had only walked one batter in seven games, but the junior has been roughed up in other categories. In the opener against Wheaton Warrenville South, she yielded eight earned runs on 14 hits in seven innings. In Game 2, Andreoli spelled Kylee Nillson in the third, allowing five runs — three earned — on eight hits. Nillson had given up six earned runs before being replaced by Andreoli.
Things didn’t fair much better for the pitchers against Lake Park. Andreoli allowed eight runs — seven earned — on 13 hits in the opener, while Nillson yielded 10 runs — five earned — on seven hits in Game 2.
OPRF’s woes continued at the plate, as the Huskies left bases loaded in the opener against Wheaton Warrenville South, and had only three hits in the opener against Lake Park.
Against Fenwick, the Huskies went into the seventh inning tied 2-2, but couldn’t hold off the Friars, who were led by Natalie Marotta (2-for-3, RBI).
“Our pitchers are doing what they can, but it’s just not happening for us right now,” says Kolbusz. “We don’t have any margin for error. We need to right the ship or otherwise the season is going to go downhill. It’s very unfamiliar ground for me and for the program, but hopefully we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel soon.”
The Huskies travel to Triton College on Tuesday to take on area-rival and last season’s Class 3A State runner-up Trinity (4:30 p.m.). They’ll host Hinsdale South on April 14 and Clemente on April 15.