For Benedictine coach John Ostrowski, it’s been a season like no other

SHARE For Benedictine coach John Ostrowski, it’s been a season like no other


For the Sun-Times

John Ostrowski is in his 43rd season coaching Benedictine, and before that he coached at the high school level and served as a graduate assistant at Lewis. But even for a coach with Ostrowski’s experience, baseball has a way of springing surprises.

“I’ve never had a season like this,” said Ostrowski, whose Eagles lost a Wednesday night nonconference game 8-2 against North Park to go 15-17 but remained in contention at 10-4 in the NACC.

“Believe it or not, we’ve had 16 one-run games. We’ve won 10 and lost six of those games. These kids believe they can come back, no matter what the situation is.”

The latest pair of one-run games came Sunday in a 3-2, 4-3 sweep of visiting Dominican in a conference doubleheader. In Game 2, Benedictine trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, but senior shortstop Max Oppenheimer came through with a two-run double to win the game.

Benedictine is one game behind Concordia Chicago and Marian, both 11-3 in the league. The key to the Eagles staying in the race is their pitching and defense.

“We’ve got three senior starting pitchers, who have done just a great job,” Ostrowski said. “Mike Irgang (3-1, 3.15), he’s really gone through some tough times [with a family situation]. He’s truly been a leader on our team and done just a great job keeping our team together, along with our other two senior starters, Chris Jordan (2-0, 1.77) and Cody Netzel (3-2, 3.96).

“Those three seniors, when they’re on the mound, they just battle and compete. They have good stuff, but not outstanding stuff. They have to battle, but they’ve been the key to our successes.”

On offense, center fielder Tim Hendricks has been a key for four years. He picked up two hits in Wednesday’s game to give him 228 in his career, tying the Benedictine record and moving him two shy of the NACC mark. Hendricks, whose brother Kevin also played at Benedictine, leads this year’s team with a .392 batting average and .459 on-base percentage, and is second with 14 RBI while batting leadoff.

“When Tim’s in a groove, he just hits line drives all over the field,” Ostrowski said. “He also plays a very good center field for us and he sets the table for the middle of our order. He’s had four unbelievable years for us and we’ve really been blessed to have him.”

Nonnemacher perfect

St. Xavier junior softball pitcher Nicole Nonnemacher has been named National Pitcher of the Week after becoming the second pitcher in NAIA history to throw an all-strikeout perfect game. That came last Tuesday when she struck out all 15 batters in a 9-0, five-inning victory over Trinity International.

Four days later, she set a St. Xavier record with 19 strikeouts in an 8-1 victory over Robert Morris. In between, she lost a 3-1 game Wednesday despite striking out 11 against NCAA Division II Lewis.

St. Xavier (36-4-2, 17-0-1 CCAC) is ranked No. 5 in the NAIA softball coaches poll.

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