Since losing its first game of the season (a 7-3 loss to visiting York on May 4), the Oak Park and River Forest High School softball team have responded by outscoring its next two opponents by a combined total of 27-6. In fact, with the exception of their loss to the Dukes, pummeling opponents on the scoreboard has been a common narrative for OPRF this spring.
The Huskies crushed host Proviso West 14-2 Wednesday and consolidated that victory with a 13-4 win over area rival Trinity at Triton College on Thursday.
Against the Blazers, OPRF junior Ellie Ziegler crushed a pair of home runs to power the Huskies’ potent offense. Her three-run shot in the seventh inning capped off the scoring barrage. Ziegler knocked in five runs and scored three times.
“I’m really just trying to get the bat on the ball,” Ziegler said. “I usually just try to drive it hard up the middle, but I’ll definitely take a home run too.”
Freshman sensation Maeve Nelson continued her stellar play for the Huskies by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Caitlyn Santiago (3-for-4, 2 RBIs), Nina Steele (3-for-5, RBI) and Sam Linde (3-for-5, 3 runs scored) also contributed for the Huskies who are 19-1 overall and 6-1 in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division this season.
Junior pitcher Emily Richardson, who suffered the lost against York, rebounded nicely with a complete-game victory. She allowed two runs and eight hits and struck out six with one walk.
“We need to back [Richardson] up at all times,” Ziegler said. “We have good, solid offense, and we need to keep our defense strong to match our offense.”
Shortstop Anyssa Iliopoulos paced Trinity with two hits and two runs knocked in, while teammate Brynisha Campbell finished 1-for-2 with an RBI. Junior pitcher Cassie Guerrero pitched six innings, giving up 11 runs on 14 hits.
While Iliopoulos (a Rutgers commit) and Richardson are friends, the rivalry took precedence for the day.
“I wasn’t really thinking about that at all,” Iliopoulos said. “I was just thinking about seeing the ball and driving it every chance I got.”
Trailing 7-1 in the fifth inning, the Blazers (16-8-1) rallied a bit with two runs. Junior outfielder Reilly Creaden led off with a single up the middle. Junior outfielder Alex Koziol followed by reaching base on an error, and senior first baseman Carrie Reilly drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Iliopoulos knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice and Campbell did the same on the next at-bat to pull Trinity within 7-3.
“We had really high energy,” Iliopoulos said. “I thought we played pretty well defensively and we hit the ball hard.”
Iliopoulos drove in another run in the seventh with a double.
The teams could potentially meet again in the playoffs as they are in the same sectional. Last year, OPRF edged Trinity 3-2 in a thrilling Class 4A sectional final at Triton as Emma Baldwin (now pitching at DePauw) tossed a complete-game three-hitter with eight strikeouts and Taylor Arends went 2-for-2 with a key two-RBI double.
“It’s a rivalry because we all know each other,” Ziegler said. “To see them on the road to state is always big and we love the competition.”
While the Huskies would be the clear favorite in a rematch, the Blazers would welcome the opportunity to pull off the upset.
“This game didn’t really affect us right now,” Iliopoulos said. “It will matter in June when we’re in the playoffs. We always work for the playoffs. I think we’ll be really strong if we face each other again.”