Communication and coming through in the clutch.
That’s what Olentangy Orange softball coach Jenna Haskins pointed to after her team’s 6-0 loss to St. Francis DeSales in the first round of the district tournament Monday in Lewis Center.
There were a couple of plays that lacked communication and led to runs defensively.
Couple that with Orange’s inability to come through in clutch situations and it’s double trouble.
It wasn’t all on Orange. Some of it was the quality pitching of Jacqui Barber, who tossed a six-hit shutout.
Some of it was timely hitting by the Stallion offense – namely Morgan Orzechowski, who had two hits and drove in a pair of runs to lead the way.
Alyssa Laisure and Alex Ronk had two hits apiece to highlight Orange’s effort. But, the 26th-seeded Pioneers couldn’t sustain a rally.
“Our seniors did a really good job,” Haskins said. “We have fantastic leadership off the field. (We’re) just trying to work to make sure that continues when they get on the field.”
Orange had its opportunities to do damage at the plate. Alli Rubal and Laisure hit back-to-back singles in the first. But, it was with two outs and the Pioneers didn’t move the needle.
“We just need to hit in pressurized situations,” Haskins said. “We can’t leave runners on base. We did that too often this year.”
The Pioneers had the first two runners on base in the third and fifth innings, but couldn’t sustain the rally enough to get a run in either situation.
“The last few games – we’ve actually come through in those situations,” Haskins said. “I was really surprised that we left (runners on base).”
Barber only walked one batter and struck out just two. Haskins credited her changeup for keeping her batters off-balance.
DeSales took the lead with a run in the second without the benefit of a hit. Kendall Gonya and Barber each reached on errors with one out before Orzechowski’s sacrifice bunt drove home Gonya.
Aubrey Wilcox doubled down the left field line and later scored on Faith Strapp’s double to deep right-center to give the 31st-seeded Stallions (7-12) a 2-0 lead in the third.
Barber (double) and Orzechowski (single) each got hits to start the fourth. Wilcox drove home Barber on a fielder’s choice and Orzechowski scored on a dropped third strike with two outs to push the lead to 4-0.
“There were a couple of times where we should have had an out at (home) instead of just letting them score and getting the (sure) out,” Haskins said. “We’ve got to talk to each other on the field and that’s something that we’ve tried to work on. We thought we got that (solved) in the last couple of games.”
Strapp opened the seventh with a hit and later scored on a fielder’s choice. Orzechowski capped the scoring later in the frame with her second RBI hit of the game.
“They just came to hit,” Haskins said.
Rubal allowed six runs (five earned) on 10 hits and three walks. She struck out eight over six-plus innings of work, but took the loss for the Pioneers (10-17).
“I wish it was a better result,” Haskins said. “It should have been a better result. But, we fought hard. What can you do?”
DeSales travels to fourth-seeded Groveport-Madison in the second round Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.