After a two-year break because of the pandemic, a popular rivalry resumes Saturday, April 30.
For the first time since April 2019, the Bishop O’Connell Knights and McLean Highlanders will meet in girls high-school softball, in what has been an annual non-league contest between top private- and public-school teams in Northern Virginia since 2009. The game, which often draws a big crowds and much interest in the softball circles, begins at McLean at 2 p.m.
“That game is always a really good matchup, and we always look forward to playing. We have missed it very much the last two years,” O’Connell coach Suzy Willemssen said.
O’Connell takes an undefeated record into the contest, as the Knights are the No. 1-ranked Division I private-school team in Virginia. McLean is among the contenders in the Liberty District.
McLean won the last two meetings, prevailing 4-3 in 2019 and 4-0 in 2018. Overall, O’Connell holds a 6-5 lead in the series, winning the first two contests in 2009 and 2010. McLean’s first win was in 2011.
The contests often have been close, with four decided by one run. O’Connell won 1-0 during the 2017 season when the Knights finished 27-0. That slim margin of victory was O’Connell’s closest that season.
“It’s a game we enjoy, and it always will be scheduled as long as I’m the coach here,” McLean head coach Maurice Tawill said.
Many of the players have not previously played in the rivalry game since it was last held in 2019.
Willemssen has only coached in the rivalry one time, in 2019, the season she became O’Connell’s coach after longtime coach Tommy Orndorff retired after the 2018 campaign.
“I had always heard about this game and how well McLean always plays,” Willemssen said. “Then I saw it first-hand in 2019, when they were making all kinds of great plays against us.”
NOTE: Each of the contests have been played at McLean.