by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
The Osseo CI adapted softball team has just five returning players and nine newcomers to the program, but the team will be fun to watch because it has the ability to score runs.
The team is anchored by captains Augie Wodrich and Lavelle Riser-Blackman in the outfield. Alex Kreidler is on the mound for a third year, while Megan Thompson returns to first base. Tasha Feigh has moved back to second base.
Newcomer Kevin Hofer is quickly learning softball skills and will contribute.
“Though Kevin has never played softball before, he has incredible athletic ability and is developing into one of the best shortstops in the conference,” Osseo coach Kelli Waalk said.
Jason Robins is the new third baseman, Bright Vang and Cole Brambilla are splitting time in the outfield. Austin Rohach is the man behind the mask at home plate. Top reserves include Aaron Clark, Paige Faber, and Navarro Tollefson. Alumni Andy Brown and Sammy Veopradith have returned to help coach the team this year.
The Orioles should score lots of runs because they have solid hitters up and down the lineup.
“We’ve always been a great hitting team and this year is no different,” Waalk said. “Feigh, Riser-Blackman, Wodrich, and Hofer all hit the ball incredibly hard and are quick around the base paths.”
The Orioles opened the season at Buffalo last April 15. Despite having so many new players, the team scored five runs in the first inning and cruised to a 20-3 win. Feigh, Blackman, and Wodrich were all 4-for-4 at the plate. Hofer hit two home runs and six RBIs. Brambilla and Vang each had a pair of hits. Robins had a double play in his first game at third. Kreidler struckout six.
The Orioles lost to top-ranked Mounds View 10-6 in the second game April 16.
Osseo got off to a great start as the first seven batters reached base to help the Orioles put-up a five-spot in the first inning. But Mounds View hit a grand slam in the fifth to take the lead. Riser-Blackman smashed a triple to the wall in the sixth to score Feigh, but that was the last run the Orioles would get.
“Mounds View is known for its aggressive base running, but our outfielders got the ball into second quickly,” Waalk said. “This prevented Mounds View’s runners from taking extra bases and kept the score close. Other than a couple base-running mistakes, the team played real well.”
The Orioles followed with a 13-6 home win over Anoka-Hennepin April 25.
Waalk looks for her young team to continue to improve as the season progresses.
“We’ve had excellent practices and the team is coming along faster than the coaches anticipated,” she said. “Based on how the kids have progressed and played thus far, we expect to finish in the top half of the conference and hope to return to state the end of May.”
Contact Bob San at email@example.com