The Oak Park and River Forest softball team had its final game on the diamond they’ve called home since 1996, on April 29. The Huskies took care of business early, routing Amundsen 16-0 in four innings.
Former longtime head coach Mel Kolbusz threw out the ceremonial first pitch and made an impassioned pregame speech.
“This field is my happy place,” he said. “I’ve been on this field for many years now, and I’m really sad to see her go. But now, it’s time for progress, and I have a lot of great memories here.”
Current OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin appreciated Kolbusz’s presence.
“Any time you get a local legend here to watch the game and throw out the first pitch, it’s an honor,” he said. “It was a special day, and the seniors were incredible.”
For senior Kelly Cortez, it was truly special as she drove in four runs, including a three-run homer.
“It felt great,” Cortez said. “I started crying once I got to home plate. It felt amazing and reminded me why I play the game.”
The Huskies’ Bella Morales also had a big day both in the circle and at the plate. She tossed four hitless innings, allowed only one baserunner on a hit-by-pitch and posted 10 strikeouts. In addition, Morales had a three-run homer during OPRF’s 10-run second inning.
“Bella’s been our best pitcher all year,” Coughlin said. “She had one at-bat before today and isn’t known for power, so it was really awesome to see her hit one out.”
Tyler Brock and Anne Stine each drove in three runs, and Cortez and Stine had two hits apiece as the Huskies (15-6) had 11 overall.
“I think we have the ability to be one of the best teams in the state,” Coughlin said. “Our defense wasn’t great this week and we’ve got to tighten that up, but we’re hitting much better than we were earlier in the season. This is a special group that roots for each other, and it’s one of my most enjoyable seasons I’ve coached.”
“We’ve got to keep playing our game and being ourselves,” Cortez added. “Being a team is why we’ve won.”