HIGH-SCHOOL

Orion softball honors two seniors with win over Monmouth-Roseville

Kayci Woodley
The ball is headed straight into Orion catcher Grace Leuck’s mitt during the Monmouth-Roseville game on Tuesday, May 17, at Charger Field. Leuck was playing the final home game of her high school career.

The Orion varsity softball team rounded out its conference slate against Monmouth-Roseville on Tuesday, May 10.

The Chargers defeated the Titans 11-0 as they honored two seniors on the team.

Both seniors, Taylor Larson and Grace Leuck, were recognized at the game and have played vital roles in the Charger lineup this season.

With a young team of only a pair of seniors and three juniors (two returning), head coach Shelly Hutton noted the importance of senior leadership this year.

“Taylor and Grace have really given us some good leadership,” Hutton said. “Taylor just really loves the game of softball and she’ll do anything you ask her to do. She’s been a second baseman pretty much all her career and we’ve asked her to play third base this year and she didn’t even question it.”

Larson is a returning letterwinner for the Chargers and has split her time between second and third base this season. Against Monmouth-Roseville, Larson had two RBIs and one hit in her three at-bats.

In the last four years, Leuck has been a part of Charger softball. Leuck was solid for the Chargers behind the plate against the Titans, as she caught the entire game.

“Grace has probably been our most pleasant surprise, stepping up behind the plate,” Hutton said. “We didn’t know what we were going to have for catching this year and Grace has filled that void very, very well for us.”

Not only did the seniors get a chance to win their final conference game, but also had a chance to see an improvement in the team’s batting as a whole. One of Hutton’s goals for her squad this season was to cut down the number of strikeouts and force the opponent to play defense.

Orion started off strong from the top of the lineup as Abby Taets smacked the ball into left field for a double. Taets, a sophomore, has been a key element of the team both defensively and offensively as she is the starting shortstop as well.

“Abby does a nice job for us,” Hutton said. “I love having her at the leadoff spot. She just finds a way to get herself on base.”

After Taets started off the Chargers on the right foot, Orion went on to score four runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Chargers weren’t able to score in the second inning, but brought around junior Ashlee Amador for one run in the third.

In the bottom of the fourth, freshman Bailey Easton led off with a single, followed by Taets’ third double of the day. The Chargers then had a pop out, but freshman Hailey Anderson drew a walk. Amador then had an RBI single, and Leuck was walked. After another pop out, the bases were loaded, with two outs and junior Emily McVietty was at the plate.

McVietty rocked a home run over center field for her third of the season and first-ever grand slam. Last season McVietty didn’t go out for softball, so the first baseman had basically only one year of experience. McVietty brought in six RBIs against the Titans and had three hits in her three at-bats.

“We talked to Emily early on about being patient, you know, ‘You’re basically like coming into your sophomore year and playing varsity softball,’” Hutton said. “And here toward the last couple of weeks, she has really started seeing the ball well and she’s doing a good job of getting her bat on the ball, so that’s been a very pleasant surprise for us.”

Following the game against Monmouth-Roseville, the Chargers had a record of 12-11 and finished the conference season at 4-4.

During the final game of her Orion career, Charger Taylor Larson settles under the ball on Tuesday, May 13.