Sidelined with broken wrist, Elena Ohe still finding ways to contribute for No. 1 Ludlowe softball

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Elena Ohe.

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Elena Ohe.

Will Aldam / Hearst Connecticut Media

On the morning of March 2, Fairfield Ludlowe softball players awakened to perhaps the most highly anticipated opening day in program history.

The end of the 2021 season left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Falcons following a heartbreaking 4-3 walk-off loss to Southington in the Class LL championship, painfully close to the school’s first state title in the sport.

But March 2 marked the beginning of another chance, starting with No. 1 Masuk. Undefeated, No. 1 from start to finish, and Class L state champion Masuk.

Ludlowe starting pitcher Alex Lewey worked a scoreless top of the first, and Ludlowe came to bat with junior Yale commit Elena Ohe leading off.

The 2021 GameTimeCT All-State honorable mention was taking over at shortstop for the graduated Allie Clark and was coming off an impressive sophomore season.

Ohe slashed .505/.579/.703 (1.282 OPS) with 34 RBIs, a team-leading 45 runs scored and just five strikeouts against 15 walks.

She stepped into the box against one of the top pitchers in the state, ready to start the fresh campaign in similar fashion.

On the second pitch of the at-bat, her season was flipped upside down.

Ohe began her swing on an inside pitch, and the ball connected with the left-handed hitter’s right wrist.

“Initially when it hit me, I knew it was broken,” Ohe said. “I had never broken a bone before, and it was different than anything I had ever felt. It was painful and then I was kind of shocked, but I knew I would be out for a long time when it happened.”

Ohe was pulled from the game and Ludlowe went on to defeat Masuk 2-0. The following week the Falcons were voted the No. 1 team in the state.

Now, as the end of April approaches, Ohe has watched from the sidelines as her team has maintained its No. 1 ranking with a 9-1 record.

“I think that the team has been doing an amazing job,” Ohe said. “We are number one in the state right now for a reason. Everyone has been contributing and I’m hopeful that I can come back and help us win in the playoffs.”

While Ohe’s bat and glove have been absent from the field, she has found alternative methods of contributing.

“I’m still staying involved in practices,” Ohe said. “I’m out there doing glove work, I don’t know if I could just sit and watch, I’m not that type of person.”

While she can’t throw or swing, Ohe has managed to continue getting reps with her glove and on the basepaths, while helping her coaches along the way.

“She has been really instrumental for us in practice, and she’s always talking to the kids and helping with the infielders,” Ludlowe coach Lou Bunosso said. “She has been running the bases in practice and has been playing outfield with one hand. She’s a really good athlete and having her around all the time is kind of like having another coach.”

Ohe has also found a way to contribute during games, making the most of her current situation.

“I’ve been trying to keep morale up during practice and keeping focus up during games,” Ohe said. “Experiencing everything from the sidelines, you get a different perspective and see things you wouldn’t as a player.”

Observing tendencies in pitchers and being an avenue for advice, the junior has remained an integral part of the team.

“She’s very smart,” Bunosso said. “She’s going to Yale, and she has been extremely helpful to us coaches.”

“It’s definitely a different role than I saw myself playing at the beginning of the season, obviously,” Ohe said. “I’m used to leading by example on the field, so it’s been different having to lead by other methods.”

Nearing a month since the injury, not a day has passed when Ohe has not counted down the days to her potential return.

“I’ve been counting down the days until I get the cast off,” Ohe said. “Things like that help me have a ‘glass half-full’ mentality rather than ‘glass half-empty’ because I’m lucky that it’s a bone injury, so once it heals it’s fully healed for the most part.”

With an initial timeline of approximately five weeks, that hopeful date is quickly approaching.

“The shorter end is five weeks, so that’s when I am going back to get my cast off,” Ohe said. “So hopefully I get it off on May 6 and I can come back to playing two weeks after that if everything goes well. My goal is to come back for our second-to-last regular-season game against Danbury.”

While most players in her situation (losing her freshman season to COVID and the majority of her junior season to injury) would be concerned with the recruiting process, Ohe luckily does not carry that burden.

“I didn’t really think of it initially, but so many people have said to me how lucky I am that I already committed,” Ohe said. “It was so true, and it was so relieving too because my college coaches are incredibly supportive and have been checking up on me and everything.”

After an intense summer of tournament ball and showcases, Ohe had little difficulty getting the attention of college coaches from schools she had interest in.

“I knew the kind of school I was shooting for: I wanted an academic school over everything,” Ohe said. “It was kind of surreal, because it has always been a dream of mine to go to an Ivy League school and still be able to play softball.”

While the injury has been immensely disappointing, Ohe gives credit to the many people in her life that have made her time off the field more bearable.

“The people around me have made it so much easier to deal with,” Ohe said. “I have so many supportive coaches and teammates along with my family that have helped me deal with the frustration of wanting to get back into it.”

While Ohe makes her recovery and works her way back to being game-ready, she knows she need not worry about her teammates carrying the weight.

“I think both years we have been really close as a team and are really driven,” Ohe said. “I think what’s kind of different this year, which has been really great to see, has been the adaptability of everyone and the fact that everyone has been stepping up and competing for positions.”

With May 16 marked on her calendar, one can only wonder what the No. 1 team in the state will be capable of with the return of one of the state’s top players.; @AldamWill