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Oak Ridge softball team loses to St. Francis; season ends

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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St. Francis ruins Oak Ridge’s playoff plans

The Oak Ridge softball team needed a victory at home to have any chance of playing games after Tuesday afternoon. A win would get them into the playoffs and a loss meant the season was finished.

Oak Ridge came into Tuesday tied with St. Francis with a 5-4 Delta River League record. The winner would finish in the top -in league and earn itself a postseason berth. Oak Ridge had the stage set for a dramatic finish to its season, celebrating Senior Day with its playoff spot hanging in the balance.

Unfortunately for the Lady Trojans, St. Francis had similar plans.

The Troubadours hit Oak Ridge early and often, scoring at least three runs in four of the five innings played and defeated the Lady Trojans handily, 15-0. St. Francis earned the last available postseason berth for the Delta River League.

“Sometimes you catch teams at the wrong time. (St. Francis) was on fire today. They hit everything. Their defense was solid and I knew we were going to have to play a good game. They just came out on fire,” said Oak Ridge coach Sam Kloczko.

For the second time this season, St. Francis junior Amy Marks notched a win against the Lady Trojans. Marks allowed only two hits and received plenty of early run support from her teammates. The Troubadours posted a five-spot in the first inning thanks to an RBI double by Bailey O’Mara and a three-run homer from Bella Stolo.

St. Francis (16-8, 6-4 DRL) continued to hit, rapping out a total of 16 hits over five innings. Danika Bailey went 4-for-5, Molly Babich went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs while Stolo drove in six for the Troubadours.

“This definitely wasn’t the way we envisioned it,” said Oak Ridge senior shortstop Lauren Bertoy, who doubled in her first at-bat. “Looking back on the season, the improvement that we had (from last year to this year) was amazing.”

Kloczko knew this loss would be tough to swallow, but didn’t think it should overshadow the great season the Lady Trojans had. Oak Ridge finished last season at 6-17 and swung a 12-win difference this year to finish at 18-9. 

“If you would have said at the beginning of the year that we would be in playoff contention, I guarantee none of the other league coaches thought we would be,” said Kloczko.

“We believed we could win this year,” said senior catcher Jackie Schmaeling. “We came out knowing we could win. Last year it was, ‘I hope we can win’ and this year it was, ‘we’re going to win.’”

Kloczko got a little choked up talking about his four seniors, Bertoy, Schmaeling and Michelle and Renee Bardini on Senior Day.

“I get emotional talking about it. They’re going to be successful at whatever they do because they’re the types that give 100 percent at everything they do. It’s going to be tough to replace that work ethic. I think they’re as good a group of seniors that Oak Ridge has had in the time that I’ve been here.”