After ten innings of head-to-head softball, the Oyster River High School (ORHS) varsity softball team (7-4) defeated rivals Coe Brown Northwood Academy (CBNA) (10-2) 3-0 in an away game last Monday, May 8th, 2023.
Heading into the game, the pressure was on. Having lost to CBNA 10-0 in their home opener, ORHS was ready to prove themselves. As a younger team, the team has spent their season creating cohesion and learning how to best utilize everybody on the field. Although nerves were there, the team kept their playing consistent and held CBNA at zero runs, securing the win with a 3-runner-in hit at the top of the tenth inning.
Emotions for both teams were high before the first pitch. Preceding the game, a ceremony was held to honor the late Drew Ceppetelli, a CBNA graduate and former member of the CBNA varsity softball team, drawing support from members of both ORHS’ and CBNA’s communities. “That was on our minds just as much as the game was,” says Maeve Hickock (’24) (#00), a junior on the ORHS team.
However, the team remained focused. “It was tough, but as soon as we crossed the chalk, everyone just put their game face on and went into it strong headed. Our defense was really tight. I think everyone knew what they needed to do,” said Maddy Veno (’24) (#1), another junior on the team.
As the game began, both teams were head-to-head. With hits and outs all around, energy was key for success. “We were all locked in. Our intensity was high, and any little mistakes that we kept making were cleaned up. We gave everything in that game,” said Aubrey DeJesus (’26) (#8), a freshman on the team. “Our energy just kept going up.”
The team’s goal this season has been addressing any little mistakes that happen on the field. “All of us have a great base of knowledge in the game, and all of us have played for many years. So, it’s really nitpicking small mistakes that will cause us to lose a game,” said Hickock. “We can’t let one good hit [against us] define the next one.”
Although the team is younger than most years, they already had good team chemistry heading into the season. “There are nine freshmen on our team, and most of them have been playing together for years now,” said Veno. However, this didn’t mean that there wasn’t room to improve. “We really had to feel out who was best in each position. […] We figured out how the team works really well together.”
This chemistry helped propel the team to improving. “As a team, bonding together has made everything so much better, because the talent is there, it’s just how we use it on the field,” said Addy Veno (’24) (#3), Veno’s sister, another junior on the team.
This focus and chemistry paid off, as ORHS held CBNA at 0-0 through seven regulation innings, and then two extra innings. This was a stark contrast to their last match up with CBNA, when CBNA scored seven runs in the second inning, effectively ending the game then and there.
In the eighth inning, the energy on the field was the highest yet. DeJesus fell over the left field fence to catch a would-be home run, keeping ORHS in the game. Later that same inning, Gracy Spirito (’26) (#13), another freshman on the team, tagged a runner in a pickle between third and home due to an overthrow at third. After those plays, ORHS knew that they still had a solid chance to win the game if they continued to play like they had all game: with consistency and attention to detail.
Plus, ORHS had luck on their side. According to Spirito, “if [we] never made that overthrow, then [the runner] would have stayed at third. She probably would have scored and ended the game.”
Two innings later, at the top of the tenth, with the bases loaded, Hickock hit a triple to right-center to score three runs. The team was ecstatic. “Everyone was cheering on the fence,” said Spirito. “All our bags fell off. We were just so excited, and everyone was jumping up and down. It was crazy.”
“I’ll be honest: I thought that I won the game. I didn’t realize it was still going on, so I’m celebrating and I’m trying to walk off the field and everybody’s yelling at me,” said Hickock.
Now with only the bottom of the tenth between them and victory, ORHS regained their poise as they took the field one last time. After three back-to-back outs, ORHS had beat CBNA. “It felt awesome. I mean, it was a great win. I think everyone contributed in a way, especially [the] freshmen. It was […] something I don’t think any of us will forget,” says DeJesus.
Since then, ORHS has gone 1-2, losing to Campbell (8-3) 0-2 home Wednesday, beating Pelham (5-8) 2-0 away Friday, and losing to Winnacunnet (Division 1 12-1) 2-1 away Saturday. They play Sanborn (7-4) away tonight, and Milford (2-8) home tomorrow.
Come support ORHS at their next home game, tomorrow at 4:30pm versus Milford!
Featured image: ORHS’ Kate Michaud (’26) (#6) making a catch while CBNA’s Emma Broadstone (#3) slides into second base. Photo courtesy of Alexis Call, @alexiscallphotography on Instagram.