The spring season is coming to a close with state tournaments winding down. Our two Athletes of the Week this week, Innovation’s Stephanie Ortiz and St. Paul’s Jack Bator, played major roles in their teams getting as far as they did in the state tournament.
The Innovation softball team qualified for the state tournament for the first time in program history this season after winning 14 regular season games. That win total was double the previous high the team had. The Ravens though, weren’t satisfied with just being in the tournament as they won their opening game against MLC by a score of 11-6. That was the first tournament win the history of the school.
Ortiz had a big game offensively in the monumental moment for the school. The sophomore only had one official at-bat but she made the most of it as she socked an RBI triple into left-center field which scored a run. In her other at-bats she walked twice and hit a sac fly.
In total Ortiz finished the game 1-1 with a stolen base and a team-high three RBI while also providing solid defense at second base.
“It feels really great to have a good game in a game like this,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t really hitting that well early in the season but I have worked hard to get better and the coaches have really helped me.”
The sophomore’s growth this season is something that has stood out. At the beginning of the season she wasn’t much of a threat at the plate but by the time the playoffs came around she was every bit of a threat.
“She has been great in the back half of the season,” head coach Michael Jessie said. “She came in here as a raw talent but she has worked hard. The best thing I can say about her is she is coachable. Even within a game if I or another coach notice something is off with her stance she will fix it and come away with good results.”
“I just always want to get better,” Ortiz said. “So when the coaches tell me to do something I listen because they know what they are doing.”
The St. Paul baseball team had its title defense come to an end in the quarterfinals with a tough home loss to Housatonic last week. Prior to that loss though, was an exhilarating home win over Immaculate in the second round.
The Falcons went on to win the game 6-5 and that was thanks in large part to starting pitcher and sixth-place hitter Bator.
Bator’s final stat line on the mound wasn’t great as he allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits and five walks in five and a third innings, but he kept his team in the game. The St. Paul defense made five errors early in the game but Bator was un-phased and still limited the damage.
“I thought he was great [in that game],” head coach Victor Rinaldi said. “He tired out at the end there but he gave us a chance to win the game and that’s really all you could ask from him. Overall I thought his performance was great.”
The five walks was something that Bator was not thrilled about with his performance but what came after the walks, he was happy with.
“I definitely let too many guys on base with walks,” Bator said. “But I made some big pitches when I had to, to make up for the lack of control. I did start to get a little tired and cramp up at the end there but that’s no excuse. I thought I did pretty well overall”
On top of the picking up the win on the mound, the senior also had an impact with the bat. After striking out looking in his first plate appearance, the right-hander followed with two singles, the second of which drove in two runs including what ended up being the game winner. The two RBI Bator finished with ended up being a team-high for the game.
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On twitter: @Bigwoolf5