Numbers sum up softball season

Mindy Carls

Every team has its own personality, Orion varsity softball coach Shelly Hutton said.

The players on the 2009 squad worked together really well, with no drama queens, she said.

As a math teacher, Hutton turned to numbers to summarize the season.

One of the most important numbers was zero, for the number of times Caitlin D’Hondt complained about playing time. At the postseason banquet, she received the team ball for exemplifying the qualities a team player needs.

Working together enabled the Chargers to win the Riverdale Tournament and the Orion regional on the way to compiling a 19-9 record.

The girls finished with an 8-4 record in Olympic Conference play.

One of Hutton’s numbers, six, represented the number of girls receiving postseason recognition from Olympic coaches. 

Seniors Alyssa Ellison, Tori Matzen and Jenna Nelson and junior Hillary Taets were unanimous selections to the All-Conference team, while senior Sami Mitton and junior Jena Malmen earned honorable mention.

Two of Hutton’s favorite numbers represented career records. 

First baseman Ellison recorded 572 putouts, while pitcher Matzen had 1.58 strikeouts per inning. 

With 211 at second base, Matzen moved into third place on the all-time list for assists.

Eleven was the number of games decided in five innings because of the 10-run rule, Hutton said.

In non-conference games, the Chargers topped the Erie-Prophetstown Panthers 12-2 and the Galesburg Silver Streaks 12-1.

During conference action, Orion whitewashed Knoxville 16-0 and 15-0 and Monmouth-Roseville 11-0 and 10-0.

Another Olympic foe, Macomb, fell 15-1 to Orion.

At the Riverdale tournament, the Chargers blew up the Fulton Steamers 13-0.

They dominated the Orion regional, overpowering Fulton 13-2 and AlWood-Cambridge 11-1.

Sherrard was the only team to hang a 10-run loss on Orion during the season. The Tigers prevailed 10-0 in a six-inning game.

One stood for the number of home run balls striking a car, Hutton said. Megan Blumenshein’s blast landed on Beth Lee’s car. 

Fourteen represented the number of home runs clouted during 2009, she said. It matched the team record set last year.

Contributing to that total were Malmen and Maddie DePorter, four each; Matzen, three; Taets, two; and Blumenshein, one.

Two of DePorter’s homers came in one of the Farmington games.

Fourteen also was the number of consecutive games in Taets’ hitting streak. She had at least one hit in 22 of the Chargers’ 28 games.

Taets finished with a team-high .500 batting average. She banged out 38 hits in 76 at bats, and her total included 10 doubles and a triple to go along with the two home runs.

Eleven stood for the team-high sacrifice bunts that Kelly Hutton laid down.

Two was the number of times Nelson struck out, while 15 was the number of walks she drew.

She led the team in both categories.

Putting Nelson in the leadoff spot was one of the best moves the coach said she made all season.

In the sectional semifinal game against Alexis United, Nelson was the only Orion batter with multiple hits. She was 3-for-4.

Orion’s varsity notched 78 wins and two regional championships during the four years seniors D’Hondt, Ellison, Mitton, Matzen and Nelson were part of the program.

Hutton said first-year coach Jill Filler did a great job with the sophomore team. Under her leadership, they had a great season.

The sophomore team won nine games before suffering its first loss, Filler said. Orion finished with a 14-4 record overall, 7-3 in the Olympic Conference.

Considering some of the girls had to learn where left and right fields were on the first day of practice, the Chargers made a lot of progress during the season, Filler said.

They beat teams by 10 runs, they hit the ball well, they made plays in the field, and they came together as a team.

Orion’s sophomores were 3-1 against Western Big 6 teams. Their only loss was to Alleman.