DARIEN — Because of the proclivity Erika Osherow has for turning batting practice pitches into long home runs, Darien High School softball coach Nick DeMaio has had to create a new position for off days.
Over the fence.
“After she hits the first couple out a girl goes over the fence to get them and just stays on the other side,” DeMaio said with a chuckle.
Osherow has been the FCIAC’s biggest star, a dual threat both on the mound and at the plate. The latter, DeMaio said, gets overlooked, which was the point of his story.
“You look at Erika as a pitcher. It is almost a given,” he said. “Even is she’s had a bad day, she keeps you in the game. If she has a bad game you’re looking at a run or two. But she can carry you with her offense. Her offensive numbers are overshadowed by her pitching. You talk to other coaches and they are more scared of her as a hitter.”
As Darien gets ready for Tuesday’s Class LL semifinal game with Cheshire, Osherow is aware she has at most two more games left in her high school career and one chance to add to her championship total: the FCIAC title she won as a freshman, when she was a shortstop before taking over on the mound the following year.
“I wouldn’t say it is frustrating,” Osherow said. “It’s all playing a team sport. One reason I love playing softball so much is that it is an individual sport within yourself, but you are part of a team. You have to win together, you have to lose together, and while you get those individual moments to shine, there are nine other players on the field. You have to take what you can get.”
Osherow’s career has already been etched in league history; the lack of one more championship will not diminish what she has accomplished. But it will leave the competitor in her feeling a small void.
“I put a lot of goals for myself and I am pretty positive I’ve accomplished most of them,” she said. “I’ll keep working toward the other ones. I’m not completely 100 percent with it all yet.”
Osherow’s numbers this year look like they were compiled on a video game. She has an 0.68 earned run average and 210 strikeouts, but as DeMaio noted, you have to look at the offensive statistics: a .571 batting average, 36 hits, 35 runs, seven home runs, 31 RBIs, a .663 on-base percentage and 1.079 slugging percentage. This comes against opponents that have been trying their best to avoid giving her anything good to hit: she is averaging nearly a walk a game.
“She is a tremendously strong athlete,” DeMaio said. “That’s where she generates her pitching power, but also gets it with her bat. Everyone thinks of her as a pitcher, but as a hitter she is off the charts.”
By next year, Osherow will be known as one of the few softball players from the league to play at a major Division I level. She is headed to Virginia, where she already knows she will be red-shirting next season.
“I can’t deny that I’m nervous,” Osherow admitted. “It is a big jump from Connecticut competition to the ACC. I’m looking forward to the challenge out there and how much better I can be by trying to rise to the occasion.”
First, Osherow will try and hunt down one of the few blanks on her resume.
“I think looking back I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I don’t like looking back during the season,” Osherow said. “But it is cool to see how a sport like softball has been able to bring people in this town and community together. I also know that I will take what I’ve learned from the game here into real life. It has been a lot of fun.”