YORK — Abby Orso and York High provided Class B South softball a taste of what they could accomplish last season.

York pitcher Abby Orso is looking forward to getting back in the circle for York’s softball team this season. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Now they are ready to serve up a full menu of zeros in 2019.

Orso, a junior right-handed power pitcher, is fully healthy after an injury forced her to miss the Wildcats’ final 13 games last spring. In the third game of the season, she fractured a bone in her left arm above the elbow while making a diving catch in the seventh inning. She finished the game at Cape Elizabeth with two strikeouts only to later find out the extent of her injury.

With Orso on the mound, York was 3-0 and did not allow a run. Without her, the Wildcats lost eight straight, finished 5-11, failed to make the playoffs and allowed over 12 runs a game.

“When I caught her (last week), I saw that she’s improved on the control of her ball. And she’s also improved on her speed, which I didn’t think was possible,” said York senior catcher Kayla Dredge.

Orso, 17, healed quickly. Had York made the postseason, she might have pitched. She was cleared by her doctor to return a day after the Wildcats were eliminated from the playoffs. Orso played a full summer schedule of travel softball and continued her private sessions with pitching coach Doug Williams. Last fall she played volleyball for York.

“I’m so excited for the season,” Orso said. “We even started an Instagram (account) just to start a countdown for the season to hopefully get more of a following. I think we can get some recognition in the school this year.”

“We’re all super excited knowing we have (Orso) back and from what we’ve seen so far, she’s looking really good,” said senior Abi Kavanagh, a returning starter at first base.

Orso struck out 41 in 21 innings last spring. She also provides York with a potent bat and good speed on the bases. She hit three home runs, with five RBI and five runs scored in three games as a sophomore.

“Because of the athlete she is, is really probably why she got hurt,” said York Coach Kevin Giannino. “The kid hit a little pop and Abby just turned and made a sensational diving catch.”

“When we realized it was broken I knew I had to work my hardest to get back to where I had been, or even better,” Orso said. “I think it was a big learning experience in have to work hard in the offseason. And, even though I couldn’t play, I needed to support my teammates as well. So, I was able to provide verbal support and help out my teammates that needed it. I think I was able to learn how to do that a lot better.”

Williams has worked with Orso since she was 9. When the injury happened, Williams told Orso it was an opportunity to work with a personal trainer and improve on her natural strength and speed.

York High’s softball coach Kevin Giannino watches as pitcher Abby Orso practices in the high school gymnasium. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

“She was very upset when the injury happened but then she very quickly agreed that she should use the opportunity to be stronger and faster,” Williams said. “She’s a very impressive girl.”

Orso was throwing as fast as 63 mph during a summer showcase, Williams said, and she consistently throws in the upper 50s with all-important movement to all four quadrants of the strike zone.

“I’ve been doing this for about 16 years and work with 40 girls at a time,” Williams said. “Abby is unusual in that she has what we call (NCAA) Division I talent. She’s a physically and mentally capable kid who can pitch at the Division I level. That doesn’t mean she should but she has the potential to do that. The last one I saw was Lily Volk.”

Volk, a 2017 Scarborough grad, is part of the University of Maine’s starting rotation.

At a recent practice in the York High gym, Orso displayed a clean, repeatable delivery with a long, powerful stride to the plate as she worked her repertoire of curve, screwball, dropball, and change-up to go with rising fastball and regular fastball.

“We don’t want to put high expectations on her this year,” Giannino said. “But we’re hoping she has a special year because she’s a special kid. She’s humping it up there. It will be very interesting to see what her velocity is.”

Orso enters the season with 174 career strikeouts. The school record is 684, set by Stephanie Rundlett, the 2016 Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year who is now pitching for Morgan State.

“My goal is to beat that strikeout record. Missing a season, that will be a lot tougher. But that’s been my goal since about eighth grade and I’m not going to lie, that’s still my goal. Even if I don’t reach it,” Orso said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig

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