by Bob San
Sun Press Newspapers
The Osseo CI adapted softball team appears poised for another run at the state tournament.
The Orioles opened the season with only four returning players in the same positions from a year ago. In addition, the team had three new players who had never even held a bat until the first day of practice.
“Our hope was to finish in the top four to earn a home seed for play-offs,” Osseo coach Kelli Waalk said.
But the Orioles have far exceeded that goal. Entering this week, they are 9-1 and sit alone atop the tough North Conference.
Despite playing short-handed, the Orioles have a powerful offense. They have outscored opponents 141-42.
“Batting is definitely our strength,” Waalk said. “Our players hit the ball hard and have learned to keep it on the ground rather than hit fly-balls for outs.”
Osseo is led by senior co-captains Cole Brambilla and Jason Robins, both batting over .900 this season. Robins pitches and has not given-up a single walk and his defensive play has improved. In the Buffalo game, Robins accounted for 12 of the 15 outs.
Brambilla leads the team at the plate with a .944 average including six doubles, five triples, and six home runs.
“Brambilla moved from left field to short stop last year and has made a great transition to his new position,” Waalk said. “Both players work hard every day at practice and it shows in their play. They are great role models for the other players on the team and a joy to coach. Robins was named Male Athlete-of-the-Year at Park Center and Brambilla is a finalist for the award at Osseo.”
Junior Paige Faber moved from third base to first this year.
“She is definitely our team’s most improved player this year,” Waalk said. “In seasons past, Faber hit toward the bottom of the line-up, but this year she moved into the No. 3 spot in the line-up and has stayed there with her solid hitting. She has also made some incredible defensive plays at first and has doubled-up runners on first numerous times.”
Senior Joe O’Hotto moved from left to center field. Sophomore Mohammed Konneh has moved from right field to third base. Emily Schlegel plays second base and Jillian Sitarz is back behind the plate. New comers Jose Guiterrez-Peralta and Dallas Ly are both quickly learning the game.
The highlight of the season so far for the Orioles was beating North Suburban last week in a rematch of last year’s state championship game won by North Suburban. The Orioles didn’t just defeat the Cougars, but they blew them off the field, winning by a score of 20-3.
“Both coaches expected the game to be much closer so the outcome was a huge surprise,” Waalk said. “Osseo hit the ball hard, ran the bases well, and made some incredible plays in the field. Everything went our way and everything that could go wrong for the Cougars did. It was our day to have a good game and their turn to have an off day. I’m sure we’ll see them at state.”
Osseo traveled to White Bear Lake May 9 and pounded out nine home runs in a 23-5 victory. Konneh had four homers, Brambilla and Robins had two apiece and Ly hit his first home run. Faber and Guiterrez-Peralta were both 4-for-4 at the plate.
With three games to go, the Orioles are hoping to earn the top-seed for play-offs and hopefully state.
Contact Bob San at [email protected]