Playing a difficult schedule doesn’t always lend itself to great statistics, but Trinity High School softball player Karah Ritacco can see the wisdom in it.
“I think in the middle of the season we were just starting to learn how to work with each other,” Ritacco said. “We were playing really good teams.
“We had a really hard schedule this year and I think it helped us for now because we’re learning low to work as a team and learning how to stay with good teams.”
Second-seeded Trinity (24-14), which has won 12 consecutive regional championships, advanced to a sectional title game for the fifth time in the past six years.
The Blazers lost 3-1 to top-seeded Oak Park and River Forest in Saturday’s Class 4A Maine West Sectional final.
Brynisha Campbell knocked in the Blazers’ lone run with an RBI triple in the sixth as Trinity mustered just six hits against OPRF starter Chardonnay Harris (13-2).
Harris, a junior left-hander who has committed to Auburn, threw a complete-game, five-hitter with seven strikeouts. Fiona Girardot, Mariah Scott and Ellie Ziegler led the Huskies (34-2) offensively with two hits apiece.
As evidenced by the close loss to the highly regarded Huskies, Trinity coach Bob Osborne believes his team was well-prepared to take on any team as the season progressed.
“We had a really hard schedule and we played everybody (on the roster), so there were some one-run games that could have gone the other way,” Osborne said. “It just took a little while to jell and that’s why we play the hard schedule; so we can compete with the Oak Parks.”
After a 10-11 start, the Blazers proceeded to win 14 of their next 16 games, including a 13-5 victory over York in the Maine West Sectional semifinals.
“We had fun this season,” said Trinity shortstop Anyssa Iliopoulos, who will play college softball at Rutgers next season. “We have so much energy and we love being together. We just try to keep positivity, high spirits and energy.”
In the sectional semifinals, Trinity rocked York freshman pitcher Julia Derkowski for seven runs on seven hits in the first inning. Alex Koziol started the rally with a lead-off single and finished it with a two-run single.
In between, Ritacco had an RBI single, Jules Morini ripped a two-run double, Carly Uhlir drove in one run with a double and Gabby Buikema and Cortlyn Kelly had bunt singles.
“We knew we needed to jump on them early,” said Iliopoulos, who walked and scored in the big inning and finished 2-for-3 with three runs and an RBI. “We always talk about first inning jumping on teams because it’s a good way to try to put them away.
“We know (the Dukes) are a good-hitting team, so coming out big was important and we just kept adding on throughout the game.”
The Nazareth softball team lost to Montini 8-2 in their Class 3A supersectional Monday in Rosemont.
Both teams were hoping for their first downstate berths. The Roadrunners (31-8), who also lost in the 2015 supersectional, concluded with their best single-season record under first-year coach Emily Matthews.
Montini (35-3) scored twice in the top of the first inning and once in the fourth with the help of three of Nazareth’s four errors. The Roadrunners scored twice with two outs in the fourth, but the Broncos pulled away with a five-run seventh – all with two outs. Both teams had six hits
-Bill Stone contributed to this story