Softball falls to Urbana to end season

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Photo by Seyun Park

Freshman Elizabeth Borissow hugs senior Maya Rickles while others cry following the team’s 18-0 loss to Urbana. Despite losing four seniors this year, talents like Borissow and other freshmen will return next year to compete again.

The WJ softball team fell to the Urbana Hawks 18-0 in five innings on Saturday, May 20 in the state quarterfinals, bringing their illustrious season to an end.

The Wildcats faced many challenges with seniors attending prom the night before the game, what the team viewed as questionable calls by umpires and injuries plaguing their lineup. Senior first baseman Brooke Levin played with chronic ankle problems while freshman outfielder Addie Strbak played the full five innings despite having a jammed finger, before going to urgent care following the game.
“It was annoying to see it happen but I knew that it couldn’t affect my game … in the state quarterfinal game that we worked so hard to get to. I found out later in the day at urgent care that my finger is broken, but that didn’t stop me,” Strbak said.

In addition, freshman Elizabeth Borissow twisted her ankle in the outfield during warmups and was scratched from the game. Borissow normally pinch runs for Levin and also can play second base.
“The injury to my ankle during warmups prevented me from playing [on Saturday] which was pretty upsetting since I wasn’t able to help my team in an important game,” Borissow said.

A lot of things [were] working against us today … Giving up a bunch of runs in the first inning because the strike zone is kind of small, the pitcher has to throw it right over the plate, whatever, those are things you can’t really control against a good hitting team. [It] took us out early, and we just couldn’t recover. Too much emotion, too much talent on the other team.

— head coach Richard Carter

Second-string pitcher sophomore Lydia Stelnyk also dealt with nagging elbow issues preventing her from pitching, leaving coaches few viable options for substitutions when things took a turn south.
Urbana reached the state quarterfinals by winning the 4A-West Region II, narrowly beating Clarksburg 2-1 in extra innings, and was reseeded as the fifth seed in the state tournament with a regular season record of 14-3. WJ narrowly edged out Urbana for the higher fourth seed and home-field advantage with their 14-2 season record.
Entering the matchup, Urbana had a much older, experienced team, with 12 of the 14 players on their roster being upperclassmen, compared to eight upperclassmen of 15 on WJ’s roster. Last year, Urbana similarly reached the state quarterfinals, before losing 4-1 to Catonsville.

The Wildcats also faced a challenge in star Urbana player senior Delaney Reefe. Reefe is committed to Division I softball at the University of Maryland. Although committed as a catcher, Reefe is also at the top of the Hawks’ pitching rotation. Entering the game, Reefe had hit home runs in five of her past six games, and Clarksburg pitcher and Division I Sacred Heart commit Genevieve Gleason intentionally walked Reefe in three of her four appearances at the plate.
Against WJ, Reefe walked twice, flew out once, and hit a double, and while as a pitcher, Reefe threw nine strikeouts while walking one batter and giving up three hits. Across the entire game, no WJ runner was allowed onto the third base, and in total, Reefe faced only 18 WJ batters compared to the 38 Urbana batters who came to the plate.

Second baseman senior Maya Rickles and outfielder freshman Addie Strbak both miss a fly ball hit to right field. Miscommunication in fielding was an issue that plagued the Wildcats during Saturday’s game. (Photo by Seyun Park)

The Hawks raced to a 7-0 lead in the first inning before junior starting pitcher Sami Rosenberg closed the top of the inning with a strikeout. Rosenberg threw six strikeouts while walking seven batters in the ball game.
The Wildcats also dealt with numerous fielding issues including miscommunication between outfielders and dropped balls, allowing more baserunners for Urbana. In one case, a pop fly to left field resulted in a heavy collision between outfielders Stelnyk and junior Mackenzie Norris, leaving Stelnyk lying down on the field while being examined by the medical trainer on site.

After no runs scored in the second inning, an 11-run third inning from Urbana in which 15 batters came to the plate sealed the game for the Hawks. While no more runs were scored in the rest of the game, both teams made substitutions to allow for other players to come to the plate. For WJ, seniors Eli Herman, Sophia Ikeda and Maya Rickles came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. The game closed on a strikeout by Reefe as the MPSSAA mercy rule was invoked with a margin of more than 10 runs after five innings.

Freshman catcher Alina Bonior shined through with two excellent throws to second base and first base to throw out runners and end the top of the third and fourth innings respectively. In addition, Strbak was also the only WJ player to reach second base and was one of only three Wildcats to register a hit, along with Levin and junior shortstop Carly Gilder.

WJ and Urbana players congratulate each other following the game. The game was called after five innings due to the mercy rule. (Photo by Seyun Park)

Despite the loss, team members reflected positively overall on the season.
“Being able to play alongside these girls who grew to be my best friends and sisters who I could always count on … I wouldn’t trade any moment we had together,” Strbak said.

The team is set to lose four seniors this season but returning players will help to keep the team competitive next season.
“Although I am really sad to see our seniors leave, our young talent makes me so excited for next year. We know what it feels like to win the region and we’re going to come back next year with that same drive to win,” Stelnyk said.

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