After an unaccustomed early exit from the IHSA Class 4A state tournament last year, the Oak Park and River Forest High School softball team is back in a familiar position this week — the sectional round.
At the Evanston Township Regional final on May 27, Bella Morales tossed a complete game and Elyssa Hasapis smacked a home run and RBI double to lift the Huskies past the Wildkits 3-2.
Hasapis’ solo homer in the first inning gave OPRF (27-7) the early lead. In the top of the third, Charlie Hendersen’s homer tied the game 1-1, but the Huskies responded with two runs in the bottom half to go ahead for good.
Kelly Cortez led off with a walk, then stole second. Anne Stine’s fly ball to right was dropped for an error, moving Cortez to third.
OPRF next pulled off a double steal as Cortez scored and Stine went to second. Stine then came home on Hasapis’ double as the Huskies took a 3-1 lead.
“Elyssa’s one of the best players in the state,” said OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin. “We’ve talked all season about being a full team, which we are, but the numbers Elyssa is putting up are insane. She’s always there in the clutch.”
Sophie Berger-White’s homer in the fifth drew Evanston closer, but Morales slammed the door on the Wildkits after that, retiring the final nine batters.
Morales gave up two runs on three hits and had eight strikeouts with no walks allowed.
“She wasn’t hitting her spots early in the game and I thought she was a little nervous,” Coughlin said. “But she wasn’t walking people, and she’s so calm and cool.”
OPRF met Taft May 30, after Wednesday Journal’s print deadline, in a sectional semifinal at Whitney Young. The Eagles edged the Huskies last year 5-4 in the OPRF Regional final.
“Taft is deep, just like us,” Coughlin said. “It should be a really good game.”
Fenwick advances to sectional play
Fenwick High School fended off a seventh-inning rally to edge Elmwood Park 4-3 to claim the IHSA Class 3A Elmwood Park Regional. It’s the second consecutive regional title for the Friars.
“The game was a little too close for comfort,” said Fenwick coach Bryan Hoffman. “But we’re not done yet, and we hope to go much further.”
Kailey Janda started in the circle for Fenwick with two scoreless innings. Hoffman said it was by design to start Janda instead of ace Talia Lorenzo (4 innings, 3 ER, 3 K), who entered in the third.
“We thought Elmwood Park would be expecting Talia, so we wanted to provide them with a few surprises,” he said. “One of them was starting Kailey, and she gave us two solid innings. That allowed Talia to be fresh for later in the game.”
Sophie Stone led off the bottom of the second for Fenwick (16-14) drawing a walk from Elmwood Park pitcher Kylie Plasencia. After a strikeout and fielder’s choice, Gianna Pescatore (2-for-2, BB) singled, then Teresa Nevarez doubled to bring home Caity Barganski (2-for-3) and Pescatore.
Nevarez also scored on the play due to fielding and throwing errors.
The Tigers (20-8) scored on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but Madelyn Entler drove in what proved to be an important insurance run for Fenwick in the sixth with a two-out double.
In the seventh inning, Elmwood Park scored on a double, and Stone sealed the win after relieving Lorenzo, who got her 500th career strikeout during her outing.
Fenwick meets sectional host St. Ignatius in a semifinal May 31. The Friars defeated the Wolfpack 6-1 on March 27.
Trinity knocked out by St. Ignatius
Trinity High School saw its year end with a 13-3 run-rule defeat to St. Ignatius on May 26 in the Class 3A Trinity Regional title game at Triton College.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth, the Wolfpack (19-15) scored eight runs, seven coming after two outs. A three-run homer by Payton Goodwin followed by a homer by Lauren Walton were the big blows.
St. Ignatius ended the game in the sixth with a home run by pitcher Abby Lee and an RBI single by Goodwin.
Lia Caporale, Kendall Haynes and Fiona Lundt each had two hits, and Claire Rambasek drove in two runs for the Blazers (16-9).