O’Connor has a lineup with plenty of underclassmen. They lost early in the postseason. Their opponent, Mountain Ridge, had won 17 straight games.
But it didn’t matter.
The Eagles scratched and clawed their way through the loser’s bracket it to make to the state final, and had to do exactly that Monday night to come away as state champions.
With just three hits, O’Connor was able to come away with two runs. That was more than enough for starting pitcher Emma Vesely. Vesely threw a complete game shutout against Mountain Ridge. The only other time that happened to the Mountain Lions? When O’Connor beat them 10-0 on March 6th.
“You just have to move your pitches around and keep it low so nothing goes flying out of the ballpark or anything,” she said.
Vesely had plenty of help behind her. Shortstop Grace Lyons kept multiple base-runners, and potential runs, off the field as she snagged line drives, made backhanded plays, and tracked down fly balls headed for no man’s land at Farrington Stadium.
“You have to love Grace,” O’Connor softball head softball coach Melissa Hobson said with a grin. “She makes those plays look routine for us. She is just so smooth out there and just so humble, and has the best work ethic. It’s unbelievable; she’s just awesome.”
“It was a big game,” Lyons said. “We knew this game was going to be tough. We had to tune out the big emotions and all the people here. So we had to tune that out and play the game that we are used to doing.”
Vesely, Lyons and the rest of the O’Connor were un-phased by the huge crowds as underclassmen, and the Eagles return a lot for following years. Vesely is a sophomore, and all three of the pitchers on this year’s squad return next year. Lyons will continue to take away opponent’s batting average points for many more years as she is a freshman.
In short: O’Connor will be a contender for a while.
“It all comes down to coming together as a family and playing together as one. We did that really well this year, and I’m hoping that even though we are losing five girls this year, we’re still going to play together as a team and come together as one because we are a family,” Vesely said.