All good things must come to an end and that was the case for the Vipers 10U squad that dropped an 8-1 decision to Nordonia in the Western Reserve Fastpitch League championship game on Thursday in Twinsburg.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Vipers, who finished the league season with a 17-4 record. They were 15-3 in regular season action and finished 2-1 in the playoffs after finishing in last place a year ago.
“We started as a 9U team last year and we have all but one girl from last year, so it’s an identical roster, and we finished dead last,” said Vipers coach Josh Kobetitsch. “We went from dead last to first place in the regular season and earned the No. 1 seed, and then we made it to the championship. I’m a pretty competitive person but I went into that game thinking no matter what the result was, I was going to be happy. Normally, in a loss, I’m not happy, but I was very happy and very proud. They played better than us (on Thursday), but the girls have improved so much from one year to the next.”
Nordonia jumped on the Vipers with four runs in the top of the first inning.
The Vipers answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Adalyn Sedmak singled and scored on a wild pitch, but that’s all the offense the team could muster as Nordonia pitched a one-hitter.
Despite the loss, the Vipers have a lot to be proud of on top of their rise from worst to first in just one season.
That individual growth and development Kobetitsch has seen out of his players is a sign of things to come as each Viper continues to grow in the program.
“One of the lines that we used all winter was that if we can be the smartest team, we can outplay teams with more experience and be able to outplay teams that maybe are bigger or older. Everyone is going to make errors, especially at 10 years old, but if we know where to be and what to do, and how to play the game the right way, it’s going to give us an advantage, and I think the girls have really bought into that.”
Kobetitsch has watched as his players have bought into the Vipers program and have done work outside of practice to enhance their skills and passion for the game.
“You could tell who is really falling in love with softball, and you can tell who is going home from practice and just can’t get enough,” he said. “They’re hitting and catching and watching Guardians games and the College World Series, and just trying to learn the ins and outs of the game. They just can’t get enough of baseball and softball and trying to learn and understand the game. You see it in a game where little kids throw the ball around, but they’re throwing to the right bases and making less mistakes in the field. It’s really nice to watch that for sure.”
Following the championship game, two Vipers were selected to participate in the Western Reserve league’s all-star game.
Kobetitsch coached one team that included Sedmak and Audrey Kobetitsch.
Sedmak has been one of the Vipers’ most consistent and productive players throughout the season.
“Adalynn has been our best player and it’s kind of not that close,” Coach Kobetitsch said. “Offensively, in league play, she hit almost .750 and had so much success that she can’t even grasp the idea of getting an out. I tell her all the time, .750 is unbelievable but we’re going to have to bring back the expectations because it’s not sustainable, but let’s keep doing it and don’t get down on yourself. She’s not a pitcher, but she can play any other position on the field, but we’ve had her at first base because she has crazy range and can stretch and make a lot of plays for us in the infield.”
Audrey Kobetitsch played all over the infield and was one of the Vipers’ top pitchers all season long. She finished the postseason 2-1 in the circle.
“She has been anywhere in our rotation from one to three, and when we had a pitcher get hurt earlier in the season, Audrey carried the load,” Coach Kobetitsch said. “She started all of the playoff games and gave us an opportunity to win every game.”