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ArlingtonO'Connell dominates in WCAC softball tourney

O’Connell dominates in WCAC softball tourney

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As far as pressing all the important buttons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights performed just the way a top seed should execute in winning the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference girls softball tournament.

The Knights (18-1) were productive with the bats, received shutdown pitching from ace Katie Kutz and the defense was unyielding in winning the high-school competition with a 3-0 record. The tourney crown was the team’s first since 2018 and 24th in program history.

O’Connell finished second in 2019, then the tourney was not held the past two seasons because of the pandemic.

The Knights blanked the Good Counsel Falcons, 6-0, in the May 14 championship game at George Mason University for their eighth win in a row and ninth shutout this spring. The Falcons fell to 13-4 and had their six-game winning streak snapped.


“They made all the plays and did all the little things, and they embraced doing that,” O’Connell coach Suzy Willemssen said of her team’s tournament performance. “Everybody was tremendous.”

Kutz threw a three-hitter with 16 strikeouts and one walk in the championship game. The junior right-hander had accurate stretches when she threw 23, 16 and eight straight strikes.

“My riseball and changeups were working well, and my plan was to throw inside a lot,” Kutz said. “The main thing, though, is we won the tournament. Everyone was so up and excited in the dugout.”

Added Willemssen: “Katie’s ball-to-strike ratio has been fantastic all season. She throws strikes.”

Defensively, O’Connell did not make a fielding error in the tournament final.

With the bat, O’Connell amassed a balanced 11-hit attack, including two hits each by Ari Clark and Alyssa Dichard. Emma Prykanowski had a second-inning RBI triple to open the team’s scoring. Sasa Groome, Sara Rollins and Abby Bond had RBI singles; Kutz, Sofia Anderson and Zo Wanek all added singles, as nine different players had hits. Groome and Anderson added sacrifice bunts. Pinch runner Lucy Henzler scored a run and stole a base.

Three errors hurt Good Counsel, leading to three unearned runs.

“Good Counsel played as tough and we knew they would,” Willemseen said.

Regular starting O’Connell shortstop Sophia Taliaferro was at a family graduation and missed the game.

“Once we got a run, we knew we couldn’t let up and had to keep the momentum going,” said Grace Hussey, who along with Groome are senior captains.

Groome said the Knights were good at not looking ahead this season, but the players knew winning the WCAC tournament was a big goal.

“We wanted this,” Groome said.

In its other two tournament games, O’Connell defeated Holy Cross, 11-5, in the first round behind eight hits, then blanked St. John’s, 18-0, in the semifinals behind 19 hits and home runs from Kutz, who also doubled and had six RBI, and Wanek.

Taliaferro and Rollins each had two hits against Holy Cross, Clark tripled, and Anderson, Prykanowski and Bond had hits. Bond started on the mound and pitched three innings, striking out four to get the win. Kutz finished the game in relief.

Also in the win over St. John’s, Anderson, Rollins, Clark and Groome each had three hits, Dichard had two, and Bond and Lauren Gatti each had a hit and two RBI.

Kutz was the winning pitcher, fanning 11 and allowing three hits and no walks in the five-inning contest.

NOTE: Next for O’Connell is the eight-team Division I private-school state tournament. The Knights are the top seed and need to win three games to earn the crown, a championship they have won nine straight times and 25 overall. The team has won 27 straight state-tournament games.

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