For about five minutes, Tommy Orndorff returned to Bishop O’Connell High School’s home softball field the afternoon of May 5.
The former 33-year coach of the girls team stepped down after the 2018 season. He was asked back by current O’Connell Knights coach Suzy Willemssen for a brief recognition event May 5 prior to the team’s home game against Bishop Ireton at Tuckahoe Park. Orndorff was presented with a state-championship ring.
Orndorff and the Knights won 23 state titles during his tenure, but those teams never purchased any state-championship rings. Willemssen wanted to present him with a ring as a way of saying thanks and setting the way for others in girls softball.
“Tommy Orndorff was the godfather of this sport,” Willemssen said at the event. “He always made it about the players.”
Willemssen explained how Orndorff could have enjoyed a one-year going-away tour in his final season as coach. Instead, he didn’t tell anyone until the season was over.
Orndorff seemed pleased with the ring presentation. The ring included various details about his accomplished coaching career at O’Connell.
His teams won 780 games, 24 conference-tournament crowns, six Northern Virginia Invitational tournaments, had a multi-season stretch when the Knights finished 106-2, the team won seven straight state championships to close his coaching career, O’Connell won 20 or more games for 26 straight seasons (going undefeated three times during that stretch) and the Knights often were nationally ranked in various polls.
Orndorff has been inducted into the Arlington Sports Hall of Fame, was chosen as Coach of the Year by the Better Sports Club of Arlington and has been inducted into the Greater Washington Fastpitch Softball Hall of Fame, as well as the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.
In the game against Ireton on May 5, O’Connell (13-1, 9-1) defeated Ireton, 14-1, in five innings in Washington Capital Athletic Conference action. O’Connell scored six runs in the first and third innings to take control.
Left-hander Abby Bond pitched a one-hitter, working the five innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. She did not yield a run in the final four frames.
O’Connell had 10 hits, with Sophia Taliaferro (double), Emma Prykanowski (triple), Katie Kutz and Sofia Anderson having two each. Ari Clark had a hit and two RBI, and Sasa Groome added a sacrifice fly.
The Knights blanked Elizabeth Seton, 6-0, in its previous game. Kutz threw a two-hitter with 16 strikeouts while walking just one. Kutz, Anderson and Taliaferro (three RBI) all had two hits, with Sara Rollins and Prykanowski adding triples. Clark had a hit and an RBI.
NOTES: O’Connell is ranked as the No.1 Division I girls private-school team in the state by the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association . . . The team will likely be the top seed in upcoming conference and state tournaments.