A week with division champions softball


Photos courtesy of the softball team

Senior Anna Koretsky slides into home base on a close play to score a run for the Vikes during their game against the B–CC Barons. I followed the team the week of April 9-13 to find out what has made them so successful this year.

By Zara Ali

For the first time in the team’s history, Whitman girls softball are division champions. The team has torn up the county this season; they’re currently 13-2 and feature one of the best lineups in recent years, said coach Ann Marie O’Donoghue.

As a former player myself, I wanted to cover this often overlooked sport. I followed the team the week of April 9-13, which included matchups versus rivals BethesdaChevy Chase Barons and Churchill Bulldogs. From Tuesday to Saturday, I observed their practices, routines and games.


The team was up and ready for practice the day before the most anticipated game of their season against rivals BCC. To warm up, they jogged around the field and then formed a stretching circle. Small conversations broke out as teammates discussed the prospects of the upcoming game. BCC was expected to be an even match for Whitman this year, catcher Margaret Oleynik said.

After stretching, the team formed groups of two where they threw the ball across the field to each other, slowly walking farther apart as time went on. By the end of the exercise, the two college commits on the team—pitcher Riley Kuehn and Oleynik—were throwing from different ends of the field.

Afterward, the team practiced batting at different soft toss stations and nets along the fence of the field. Each pair of girls took turns at these stations until they made it to Bert, the pitching machine. Bert got its nickname when it was purchased around 10 years ago, O’Donoghue said.

O’Donoghue used to play softball in high school and she started coaching rec teams after graduating.

Once the girls took the field during practice, the intensity felt like an actual game. O’Donoghue kept reminding the girls that there was “no place for mistakes,” especially against BCC. The players communicated enthusiastically, instructing each other of what to do by yelling “Go to third!” or “Go to first!”

The Lady Vikes meet up in the infield to discuss the game while the B-CC Barons prepare to bat. The Vikes went on to win the game 10–5.


The day of the game had come and the girls were ready. They showed up to school wearing Hawaiian shirts and braids for team spirit. The game was away at BCC, where the Barons had filled the stands supporting their home team. BCC had promoted the game at school and was offering free Italian ice to anyone who came.

“We didn’t let the crowd intimidate us,” shortstop Jaymie Beers said. “It only pushed us to perform better.”

During the first two innings, neither team scored. But Whitman gradually turned up the heat offensively and ended up scoring ten runs in the next seven innings; Samantha Tave and Riley Kuehn had combined over three RBIs. Whenever the Vikes were at bat, the team’s dugout pushed against the fence and cheered on their batter to distract the other pitcher.

Whitman ended up soundly defeating the Barons 105 on their own turf.


The next day, the mood at practice was exuberant. The Vikes seniors had never beaten the the Barons before.

“Last year we lost by one in extras in playoffs, and so to beat them finally is amazing,” first basemen Alyssa Kline said. “We are really proud of our performance.”

During their warm-up circle, the team discussed their best plays from the previous night. All the girls have become close friends over the season, especially since almost half of the players are seniors. They have team sleepovers after big games and go to the mall together after practices sometimes.

“This year our dynamic is really great,” third basemen Anna Koretsky said. “We like to have fun, and this year we’ve been winning a lot more than we usually do.”

They started off practicing batting again, with pairs of girls setting up the different batting stations around the field. Afterward, the Vikes took the field as usual and focused more on specific hits to ensure more practice for outfielders and replicate difficult infield plays.


Senior Riley Kuehn pitches a fastball during the Vikes’ game against the Churchill Bulldogs. The Vikes annihilated their division rivals 11–1.

The Vikes arrived at the field at 2:45 p.m to warm up for their home game against the Churchill Bulldogs. The game would decide if they would be division champions for the first time in history. Whitman teacher Andrew Sonnabend coaches the Bulldogs, which only adds to the rivalry. The game started slow, but an Oleynik double knocked in a run and riled the Vikes up. From then on it was clear sailing for the team; the Vikes ended up beating the Bulldogs with the ten run mercy rule, 11–1.

When the game ended, the girls started cheering and high fiving each other; they had just become division champions. The players went home in high spirits, anticipating their team sleepover that night. By the end of the week, the Vikes had a record of 91; they’d lost only to the previous state champions, Sherwood.

Although not heavily followed by Whitman students, the Vikes softball team has taken the season by storm with their magnificent hits and spectacular plays. In playoffs, they will be the first seed in the bracket.

“The year has been going extremely well,” said Karl O’Donoghue. Karl is the other coach of the team and is Mrs. O’Donoghue’s husband. “I’m very happy with the way the girls have been playing, and they have finally grown and that is showing this year.”

The team took down the Einstein Titans in the first round of playoffs 18–0 last night. They play B–CC at home tonight at 5:15 in the second round.