For the Bishop O’Connell Knights, the team’s impressive streak of winning Division I state private-school tournament championships has reached a perfect 10.
During that stretch, the girls high-school softball squad has won 30 straight state-tournament games, going 3-0 each of those 10 campaigns, including the 2022 season.
This spring, top-seed O’Connell (21-1) continued its title surge, by defeating the second-seed Potomac School Panthers, 7-2, in the state-tourney final May 20 at the Dinwiddie Sports Complex near Richmond. The win concluded the Knights’ season with 11 straight triumphs and gave O’Connell 26 state crowns in program history, the last three under current head coach Suzy Willemssen.
“The players worked hard for this and kept their focus on the steps they had to manage,” Willemssen said. “There was no drama and they all embraced their roles. It’s a great group who had a good vibe all season.”
In the win over Potomac School, O’Connell scored three runs in the first inning and was ahead for good. Junior right-hander Katie Kutz pitched a three-hitter, struck out 14 with one walk and dominated, as she did the entire season.
“Katie just gets it done,” Willemssen said. “With her pitching, if we can scrape together some runs, like at least four, I always think – and stay away from weird things happening, we feel pretty good.”
With the bat, O’Connell hitters struck out just twice and had eight hits.
“We put the ball in play,” Willemssen said.
Sasa Groome homered and had two hits, Alyssa Dichard had two hits and two RBI, Sophia Taliaferro had two hits, including a triple, Sophia Anderson had a sacrifice fly and Abby Bond had a hit and one RBI. Dichard and Lucy Henzler had stolen bases.
O’Connell blanked eighth-seed John Paul the Great, 10-0, in the first round, then No. 4 seed Paul VI Catholic, 10-0, in the semifinals.
Kutz was the winning pitcher in each of the slaughter-rule games. She threw one-hitters with no walks in the contests, fanning 12 against John Paul the Great and six against Paul VI.
The Knights had 11 hits in the first game, then 15 against Paul VI, with Kutz belting two homers. Also with two hits against Paul VI were Taliaferro, Groome, Anderson and Sara Rollins. Bond, Dichard and Emma Prykanowski each singled and Ari Clark had a sacrifice fly.
Anderson had three hits against John Paul the Great. Kutz, Taliaferro and Clark all had two hits. Groome and Lauren Gatti had one hit.
NOTES: Kutz was chosen as the 2022 Division I state Player of the Year. Making first team all-state along with Kutz were Anderson, Dichard, Groome and Rollins. Taliaferro made second team. Willemseen was the Coach of the Year . . . Groome, who will play in college at Dickinson College, and Grace Hussey were the Knights’ lone seniors this season . . . Throw out the 2020 and 2021 seasons that were either canceled and shortened because of the pandemic, O’Connell has now won 20 or more games in 28 straight campaigns.