Mariah Weinand, Oak Park-River Forest ‘getting in a groove’

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Oak Park-River Forest softball has a storied history, having won the state title in 2005 and going deep into the postseason year after year.

This year, it’s been an uphill struggle, with a young pitching staff and an offense still finding its hitting stroke. Huskies coach Mel Kolbusz isn’t panicking.

“I’d rather be hot in May and hopefully June than right now because that’s when it counts,” he said.

The Huskies’ captains, senior shortstop Mariah Weinand and second baseman Samantha Davidson, are trying to lead the team through its tribulations.

“We’re going together as a team, we’re learning more about each other and how we work together. We’re meshing and we’re getting in a groove,” Weinand said.

“We’re definitely doing better and growing as a team. We’re going to know our teammates as people on the bus and out on the field, and that’s important,” Davidson said.

The Huskies have played a tough schedule with games against McAuley, Leyden, Trinity and Glenbard North. In the rugged West Suburban Silver, which has contenders like Downers North, Weinand sees an

opportunity and a challenge.

“If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. You want to play up to your competition,” Weinand said. “It keeps you on your toes and it makes you better as a player and as a team.”

Some Huskies, like Weinand and junior third baseman Taylor Arends, have found their hitting stroke. Others, like Davidson, need some more at-bats to get into a groove.

“We’re not hitting the ball very well because of the rough spring we’ve had, but we’re still working at it. It’s just going to take some time,” Kolbusz said.

“Hitting off a machine isn’t the same,” Weinand said. “It throws off your timing. Live pitching is just something we need to see.”

The two captains aren’t concerned with the early struggles and neither is their coach.

“We’ve competed and we’ve stayed in games. We’ve come back in close games and we’ve played well,” Kolbusz said. “I think we’ll be ready when it counts.”

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