Oak Ridge fails in bid for sweep, falls to St. Francis, 7-2

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge softball coach Sam Kloczko wasn’t happy after Thursday’s 7-2 loss to St. Francis, but in the Delta River League, he knows losses will happen from time to time.

The ultra-competitive league is showing its true colors through the first half of league play, as teams are taking turns beating one another.

Oak Ridge opened the week with a big 7-4 win over Pleasant Grove on the road before losing to the Troubadours. A split isn’t what Kloczko was hoping for, but it is what he expected.

“Before the week started, I would have taken either one (of these games), but it was nice to get the first one because then we had a chance to take the next one and sweep the week,” Kloczko said. “In this league, there’s not going to be a team that goes through and loses a game or two. Hopefully our friends up the hill (Ponderosa) can beat Sheldon today and then we could be in a three-way tie for second.”

Kloczko’s wish came true, as the Bruins, who lost to Oak Ridge 7-1 on April 11, upset the Huskies 2-1 and the Lady Trojans are now tied for second in league play with Sheldon and St. Francis with a 3-2 record. Pleasant Grove leads the way with a 4-1 mark, while Ponderosa is back in the race at 2-3.

Oak Ridge played well in the win over Pleasant Grove, scoring runs in all but two innings, including three in the top of the seventh to break a 4-4 tie and win the game 7-4. At the plate, Lauren Bertoy had three hits, including a home run and a double, and drove in two runs, while Jackie Schmaeling had two hits and two RBIs.

Defensively, the Lady Trojans didn’t make any errors, while pitcher Alyssa Burns scattered 10 hits (nine singles), struck out four and only walked two.

Two days later, however, Burns struggled with her accuracy, as she walked eight batters, including two in the second inning that ended up being the key point in the game.

Oak Ridge jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Bertoy doubled and scored on Lindsey Zito’s single. In the bottom of the second, however, St. Francis scored four runs to take the lead for good.

With one out and a runner on first, Burns seemingly was in control when she went up 0-2 on the next batter, St. Francis’ number-seven hitter, Megan Garren. However, Burns threw four straight balls and walked her. The number-eight hitter, Bella Stolo, also fell behind in the count 0-2, but Burns again threw four straight balls to load the bases.

“That can’t happen,” Kloczko said. “If we could have gotten out of the second inning, the whole game would have changed.”

With the bases loaded, St. Francis scored four runs on three singles to take a commanding 4-1 lead. They tacked on three more runs in the fourth to increase its lead to 7-1.

Oak Ridge’s final run came in the sixth when Jackie Schmaeling singled and eventually scored on Katelyn Castro’s grounder.

Despite the loss, Jessica Burgess had two hits for the Lady Trojans.

“We talked after the game and I asked the girls where we made mistakes and all the girls pointed out what I was going to say,” Kloczko said. “This league is tough and St. Francis made some great defensive plays today and we didn’t. We’re going to see what we learned from this game on Tuesday against Folsom.”

After the matchup with Folsom, Oak Ridge begins the second round of league play Thursday at home against Sheldon, who they lost to 4-2 on April 9.