Learning Lessons From Earlier Loss to Lawrenceville, Hun Softball Tops Big Red 11-2 in Prep A Title Game
MEMORABLE RUN: Hun School softball player Lexi Kobryn, right, celebrates with Kat Xiong after scoring a run in a game this spring. Last Thursday, sophomore star Kobryn led the way with her arm and bat as Hun defeated Lawrenceville 11-2 in the Prep A state title game. She hurled a complete game, striking out 10 and yielding five hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs as Hun posted a final record of 18-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Lexi Kobryn has produced some remarkable pitching performances this spring for the Hun School softball team, hurling two perfect games and four other no-hitters.
But sophomore star Kobryn was involved in one meltdown this season as Hun squandered a 7-0 seventh inning lead against Lawrenceville in late April with her in the circle on the way to an 8-7 defeat for its first loss of 2022.
When the rivals met last Thursday in the state Prep A title game at the Adventure Sports and Entertainment Center in Jackson, Kobryn had that setback on her mind.
“I was definitely nervous; it was one inning that really killed us,” said Kobryn. “We wanted to come back and show what we are made of and what we have been working for.”
Kobryn kept her head, putting on a show with her arm and bat as the Raiders prevailed 11-2 over the Big Red. She hurled a complete game, striking out 10 and yielding five hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs as Hun posted a final record of 18-1 on the way to winning its first Prep A title since 2017.
“They have some good hitters but I threw all of my pitches,” said Kobryn. “It was just keeping them off balance. My rise was working, I got a lot of batters on that. I had confidence in myself, I was trying to keep it together.”
Kobryn has gained confidence through the spring as she hurled one gem after the other.
“I definitely stepped it up from last year,” said Kobryn, who piled up 190 strikeouts in 87 innings pitched this season. “I did well last year but even better this year. I have been working really hard over the fall and winter. I was in the gym every day.”
At the plate, Kobryn saw the fruits of her labor, hitting a team-best .500 with team highs in homers (7), RBIs (28), and runs (30).
“I did the same thing with my hitting, this is all I do. I work hard, I hit off the tee whenever I can and just focus on my mechanics.”
In Kobryn’s view, the April 26 loss to Lawrenceville helped set up a big May for Hun.
“I do think it was a blessing in disguise because we weren’t focusing going into each game,” said Kobryn. “It was like ‘oh no, what if we lose.’ We lost so we are not undefeated and that is OK and that pushes us to be better. That loss really showed us what we can do and what can happen and how we need to jump back and learn. It is OK to fail, you have to fail to succeed.”
The squad developed a good chemistry along the way that helped it succeed.
“It is an amazing, amazing team, we have such a bond,” said Kobryn. “I trust everyone behind me, we all trust each other.”
Over the year, Kobryn developed a deep bond with senior catcher Nora Shea.
“I had so much confidence in throwing to Nora,” said Kobryn. “We will really miss her next year.”
Hun head coach Kathy Quirk credited her players with producing their best hitting performance of the season in the Prep A final. Hun pounded out 14 hits against Lawrenceville as Anna Murphy went 3-for-4 with three runs while senior Christina Riviello went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and sophomore Jamie Staub chipped in two hits and two RBIs.
“I have never seen us hit the ball as well as we did tonight,” said Quirk, whose team was aggressive from the start as leadoff hitter Kat Xiong ripped a single up the middle on the first pitch Hun saw on the evening.
“We tell Kat, she sets the tone for the game. If she gets on base that sets the tone. We weren’t getting little bloopers, we were hitting it hard.”
Kobryn’s stellar pitching kept the Big Red’s hitters from getting into a groove.
“She just does a great job for us and I am very happy,” said Quirk of Kobryn. “I am very pleased with her, I am proud of her. She just throws hard, she just knows what to do.”
Quirk was proud of how her squad responded in the wake of the loss to Lawrenceville.
“I think it was the turning point of our season, we learned a really good lesson,” said Quirk. “We never use the undefeated word and we bounced back. We beat Lawrence High, we beat Hopewell Valley, we beat West Windsor North. It just made us a stronger team mentally.”
Displaying her affection for the squad, Quirk and her players came together in a group hug at home plate after the trophy presentation.
“It is just a great bunch of girls, I am going to miss the three seniors,” said Quirk, referring to Shea, Ashley Jones, and Christina Riviello. “I am just so proud of them, it was a dream come true.”
Making that dream come true was the product of a lot of hard work.
“Every day we practice hitting, every day we practice defense and we just go over situations,” said Quirk. “We drill and they buy into it. They know what we do every day and they just do it.”
Kobryn sensed early on that Hun was bought in and primed for a special season.
“I knew when we had our spring training, we were going to do some damage this year,” said Kobryn. “We had some practice games before and we already had a feel of what we were going to go into.”
CROWNING GLORY: Members of the Hun School softball team display the hardware they earned for topping Lawrenceville 11-2 in the state Prep A title game last Thursday night. Hun ended the season at 18-1 on the way winning their first Prep A crown since 2017. (Photo by Jamie McKee/The Hun School)