Ryken softball needs just one run to beat O’Connell
Prebble’s sixth-inning homer, Aughinbaugh’s 11 Ks gives Ryken win over O’Connell
In its final game of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule, the reigning WCAC champion St. Mary’s Ryken High School softball team made the most of its lone run of the day while edging visiting Bishop O’Connell (Va.) 1-0 on Monday afternoon.
Ryken (19-1, 15-1 WCAC) got a solo home run from junior first baseman Katie Prebble with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, then senior ace Madison Aughinbaugh escaped a bases loaded jam unscathed to preserve the narrow victory. O’Connell hurler Kathryn Sandercock suffered her third setback in a 1-0 game this spring.
As expected when these two teams clash, base runners were at a premium throughout the afternoon and when Ryken right fielder Jaelyn Gorham had a one-out single in the sixth then was caught attempting to steal second base with Prebble at the plate, O’Connell (17-5, 13-3) appeared to have dodged a bullet. But Prebble sent a 1-ball, 1-strike changeup from Sandercock over the fence in left-center field for a solo homer that ignited an immediate celebration.
“I try not to going up there looking for a certain pitch,” Prebble said. “I was just waiting for a pitch that I could hit. I knew when I hit it that it was going out. Madison pitched a great game, which she always does. Now we have to go out and get another WCAC title. I’m confident that we can do it again.”
After Prebble’s blast gave the hosts a 1-0 lead, Aughinbaugh headed to the mound in an ideal situation to preserve it. The visitors were due to send up the bottom of their lineup and the senior ace had limited O’Connell to two hits and three walks over the previous six innings. Left fielder Patty Ohanian had walked in each of her three appearances.
Aughinbaugh fanned Kayla Turner looking, then Elizabeth Hoeymans singled to left. Aughinbaugh retired Jenna Spille on a grounder to first, but Julia Jones, O’Connell’s No. 9 batter, kept the visitors hopes alive with a single to right, allowing Hoeymans to take third. Caitlyn Jorae then worked Aughinbaugh for a walk to load the bases.
O’Connell sent third baseman Leah Hammes to the plate with a chance to tie the game or give the visitors the lead. Aughinbaugh had retired Hammes in each of her three previous at-bats and the Ryken senior ace fanned Hammes for the second time on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.
“I thought my riseball and my curveball were working really well today,” said Aughinbaugh, who fanned 11 batters and walked four while throwing strikes on 75 of 123 pitches during her four-hit shutout. “They had all of their hits on my drop curve. When Katie stepped up the plate in the sixth I called it. I told the other girls on the bench she was going to take her deep.”
O’Connell had at least one base runner in five of the first six innings, but only once had a serious scoring threat. Spille led off the second with a single to left and Jones sac bunted her over to second, but Aughinbaugh struck out Jorae looking and then fanned Hammes swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Over the first six innings, none of the other O’Connell batters who reached advanced.
Through the first five innings, Ryken had two scoring chances against Sandercock. Gorham had a one-out single in the first and stole second, went to third when Prebble grounded out then was stranded there when Emma Thompson fanned. Moriah Hunter had a oneout single in the third, went to second on a groundout but was stranded there.
“Kathryn has pitched really well for us this year,” said O’Connell 31st-year head coach Tommy Orndorff. “Unfortunately, three of her best games we lost 1-0. They weren’t her fault. We just didn’t score any runs for her. But these are the type of games that you expect when you play Ryken. Now we’ll have to get ready to maybe see them again in the playoffs.”
St. Mary’s Ryken senior pitcher Madison Aughinbaugh fires home against O’Connell in the top of the first inning on Monday. Aughinbaugh blanked O’Connell on four hits and four walks while fanning 11 batters as Ryken prevailed 1-0 on Katie Prebble’s solo home run in the sixth.