Olan leads Oak Ridge over Bruins, 7-1

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Caitlyn Olan just wanted to contribute to a winning cause Thursday, not only in a softball game against Ponderosa, but also in helping raise money for breast cancer awareness.

She did both, as her home run and three RBIs helped Oak Ridge to a 7-1 win over archrival Ponderosa, while the game served as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and preliminary reports had more than $1,000 raised for the cause.

“I really wanted this one for my seniors because they really wanted this game because Pondo beat us at home last year,” Olan said. “I just wanted to help our cause and help us win. The pitch I hit was on the outside corner, but the ball hit right on the sweet part of the bat. I didn’t think it was over because it was more of a line drive, but when I heard everyone cheer I just started jogging.”

Olan’s home run turned out to be the game-winning hit, as it gave the Lady Trojans a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third. The team scored its first run in the bottom of the first when Jackie Schmaeling tripled and scored on Lindsey Zito’s squeeze bunt.

Ponderosa cut the lead to 3-1 with a run in the fourth, but Oak Ridge got the run back in the fifth inning, again with Olan at the plate.

Olan backed up her home run two innings earlier with the smallest of hits, another squeeze bunt that scored senior Lauren Bertoy from third.

“I had one of my seniors (Bertoy) on third and I knew I had to get her in,” Olan said. “It was the second time I had to squeeze this year. I didn’t mind; I just knew I had to get it down; just wanted to help the cause.”

Oak Ridge coach Sam Kloczko was ecstatic with his team’s play, including Olan’s performance.

“There were two outs and I told Caitlyn to swing hard,” Kloczko said of his chat with Olan before the at bat. “I told her to be aggressive and attack the ball and that’s what she did. This was our best game of the season. We got our bunts down and moved runners. Even when we didn’t score, we kept the pressure on.”

The Lady Trojans tacked on three more runs in the sixth. Amber Orchard singled in Michelle Bardini and two batters later Bertoy tripled to score Jessica Burgess and Katelyn Castro.

Bertoy and Bardini each had a pair of hits for the Lady Trojans, while Olan knocked in three runs and Bertoy two. Zito and Orchard also had RBIs, while seven different players scored runs.

Alyssa Burns pitched a solid game for Oak Ridge, scattering six hits, but only allowing one run. She only struck out one, but got the job done.

“Every pitcher likes the strikeout, but I tell Alyssa her game is locating her pitches and getting pop-ups and ground balls,” Kloczko said. “She hit her spots and stayed positive.”

Coming off a 4-2 loss to Sheldon Tuesday, the win over the Bruins was big.

“This win was extraordinarily huge,” Olan said. “We put up a great fight against Sheldon and I’m proud of the way we played. We were really hungry and focused for Pondo. I knew we were going to get this one.”

Kloczko added, “Instead of looking up at four teams ahead of us, now we’re tied for second. We could not afford to lose this game.”

The game was played in front of a big and enthusiastic crowd, who not only showed up to watch a good softball game, but also to support breast cancer awareness.

“It was a great crowd,” Kloczko said. “It’s so much fun to play in front of a big crowd. I wish all of our games were like that.”

Olan added, “The fans knew what we were playing for. There are a lot of women affected by breast cancer and we wanted to draw awareness that there are survivors out there. We just wanted to keep that spirit alive and help the fight to find a cure.”

Oak Ridge, 2-1 in league and 15-5 overall, has two big games next week on the road at Pleasant Grove (3-0, 13-7) and St. Francis (2-1, 12-4) on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Both games start at 4 p.m.