When Erin Garczynski graduated from Norwood High School, she left a huge void behind the plate for the Mustangs softball team, and Coach Carol Savino had no one to take the perennial catcher’s position. Following her departure to Southern New Hampshire University, the Norwood Coach, however, found herself a diamond in the rough, so to speak. Playing on her summer league team Savino had Erin’s younger sister Bryn, who was getting ready to enter high school.
“During Little League I’d play wherever the coach needed me to play,” the younger Garczynski said. “Naturally I’m an outfielder for the Drifters, but when the Coach told me that the high school team needed a catcher, I told her I’d do it.”
Having played travel softball since the seventh grade, Garczynski was a polished outfielder, but the catcher position was a different story for a freshman on the high school varsity team, especially one in which your older sister was known throughout not only the Bay State League, but pretty much the state.
“My freshman year was tough,” Garczynski said. My sister was an amazing catcher and I had to fill in some really big shoes. As a catcher, you control the game and Erin was always five plays ahead. Myself, I’m a react as you go type of catcher, much what I’m like as an outfielder.”
Entering her fourth year at Norwood with three Bay State League All Star awards to her credit, Garczynski has made it rather difficult for Savino to move her from behind the plate and put her back into the outfield where she belongs.
“Bryn’s very athletic and can do a lot of things on the field,” Savino said. “We’ve had catchers come along through the years, but none of them have had the arm or the ability that she brings to the field.”
In addition to making the transformation from outfield to catcher, Garczynski has done it as a left handed thrower, something that makes things a bit difficult behind the plate.
“With so many right handed batters I have learned that I need to pop up faster to throw runners out,” Garczynski said. “Being a lefty, many teams don’t think that I have the capability to gun down runners, but they soon find out.”
While she is a dominant left handed thrower, Garczynski said she can throw a little bit right handed, but it’s her ability to hit from both sides of the plate that really worry the opposing teams. According to Savino, she’s the real deal and hitting in the lead-off position she hit .450 last year. The coach went on to say that Garczynski’s speed also allowed her to steal a lot of bases for the Mustangs, many leading to the opposing schools believing that she was leaving too early.
Although she is ambidextrous in the batter’s box, she once again lets you know she is nothing like her older sister.
“I am nothing like Erin, who was a pure power hitter; I’m more of an RBI hitter,” Garczynski said. “While I am mainly a right handed hitter, I can somewhat hit from the left side if I need to bunt and beat out a hit. I’m looking to work on my left-handed hitting so that I can be a threat from both sides and become a multi-dimension hitter by the time I get to college.”
Having a four year age difference, Garczynski has never really played with her older sister in high school and when she gets to Southern New Hampshire, where she has committed to play in the fall, she will once again find herself a year short. However, she will get to take the field with her older sister as Erin will be staying at school to continue with her Master’s Degree and help out the Penmen softball team.
“Whenever Erin came home she’d help out with the high school team or the summer league, but next year college will be 24/7,” Garczynski said. “When I get to Southern New Hampshire, I want her to act as my coach and not as my sister. If I screw up, I want her to yell at me and let me know what I did wrong.”
Prior to leaving Norwood High and traveling north, Garczynski still has one year left on the softball field with her Mustang teammates.
“Heading into a new league (the Tri-Valley League) for the first time I want to make it be known that Norwood is not a weak team and should be someone to be reckoned with over the years,” Garczynski said. “My ultimate goal would be for the team to win the TVL Championship and possibly a state title.”
Individually, the senior catcher has a few minor goals she has set for herself in her final season with Norwood.
“I’d like to have more steals than last year, where I was only caught twice and would maybe get to play outfield once or twice during the season,” she said. “Oh yeah, I would like to hit one out of the park homerun as well so that I can say to Coach Savino that I hit a real homerun, not just have an inside the park one.”
Heading into her final season with her high school teammates, it really doesn’t matter what Garczynski does as an individual as she has just about accomplished everything as a softball player and will be remembered right there next to her sister as one of the best who ever played the game for Norwood, but wouldn’t it be great to go out on top.