A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Apollo-Ridge’s Camdyn Kowalczyk

Monday, April 15, 2024 | 1:02 PM

Apollo-Ridge senior Camdyn Kowalczyk thought she had done some major damage to her knee, possibly tearing her meniscus.

Luckily, she received good news.

“I got an MRI, and it’s just swelling,” Kowalczyk said. “I have to do physical therapy twice a week for a month before I can start getting back behind the plate.”

Not being behind the plate is something Kowalczyk truly misses.

“When I’m catching, I can see the entire field,” she said. “Being a catcher, you’re sort of the big dog out there. You’re always touching the ball. Basically, the game is in your hands.”

Although the position makes Kowalczyk feel like a captain, for coach Ashtin Kirkwood, Kowalczyk is a true leader no matter where she is.

“She’s my biggest leader,” Kirkwood said. “She talks both on the field and off the field, always stepping up at practice and always making sure the underclassmen are where they need to be, helping them out as well.”

Kowalczyk has taken a hands-on approach with her pitchers, stemming from her experience as a pitcher throughout her softball life. Her ability to study opposing hitters during batting practice is just one way she helps her pitchers get a leg up.

“It’s easy for me to recognize where the pitch needs to be for opposing hitters to miss-hit it the ball,” Kowalczyk said. “It’s easy to spot if a hitter can’t hit a drop ball or a pitch either on the inside or outside part of the plate.”

An all-section selection last season, Kowalczyk has moved to shortstop while she waits for the swelling in her knee to subside.

“Shortstop is a lot like catching in the way that you’re a leader on the field,” she said. “And it’s a lot of action. You have to be quick.”

Kirkwood said Kowalczyk is very versatile in the field, and that comes from her having played every position for her traveling team in the summer.

“I’ll play every position except for pitcher and first base,” Kowalczyk said.

Kowalczyk hopes to get back behind the plate for Apollo-Ridge before too long and lead the Vikings to a playoff berth.

“She’s great around the plate,” Kirkwood said. “She’s quick and definitely a catcher that you want to have.”

Kowalczyk took a few minutes for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

What has catching taught you about the sport?

Communication is the key to anything. Whether that’s softball or work.

Coach Kirkwood has you batting third in the lineup. Is that a spot you normally hit in?

No. Usually I hit leadoff or somewhere in the sixth spot.

Are you more comfortable in the leadoff spot?

I wouldn’t say I’m more comfortable. I do like it more because I’m fast. I like getting on and stealing bases. I just find it harder to do that when I’m hitting third in the lineup.

Coach also mentioned how good you are at bunting.

It’s more difficult to lay down a bunt than it is to hit the ball. You have to have the right angle of the bat, and some people don’t bend their knees as much as they should.

Typically, catchers are students of the game and become coaches later on. Do you see yourself becoming a softball coach?

Yes. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a coach because my dad coached all the years that I was playing. I’ve really learned from him and my coaches in travel ball.

What’s the best piece of advice your dad has given you?

To put your best nine on the field, no matter what.

What travel team do you play on?

I’m on Ohio Lasers Gold and 18U team.

What’s been the best place you’ve traveled to?

When we went down to Myrtle Beach.

Why Myrtle?

There’s the beach, but there was also a camp I attended where I received a lot of coaching and learned a ton.

College plans?

I’m attending Waynesburg University. I will be playing softball for them and I’ll be enrolling in their nursing program.

Any specific reason you chose nursing?

When I went to the hospital last year, I had a really nice nurse who took care of me and that’s what I want to do, help people.

Favorite high school memory so far?

Hitting my first high school home run last year with my dad coaching third base and seeing his big smile and a little tear.

One piece of advice you’d like to leave your teammates?

Keep working. Everyone is going to fail. You just have to push yourself.


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