Loren Krzysko started her softball career as an outstanding pitcher in youth leagues and middle school.
"Every kid wants to be a pitcher when they are little," said the Barrington senior third baseman. "I loved practicing all the different pitches, it was fun."
But in high school, fun for Krzysko has been standing in the batter's box rather than on the pitcher's mound.
It's been fun for the Barrington Fillies fans, too, who have been able watch the most dominant home run hitter the northwest suburbs have seen in softball.
Krzysko has put herself in the IHSA state record books by walloping 42 home runs in her four-year varsity career, including 18 this spring.
Along with her .504 batting average and fine glove at third base, Krzysko had some impressive credentials behind her on the way to being named captain of the Daily Herald's Northwest all-area softball team.
This spring, she had 66 hits, 20 doubles, 2 triples and school records of 59 runs and 59 RBI.
As her school's female athlete of the year award winner, Krzysko saved her best season for her last.
"I am so proud of Loren and what she has contributed to the program," said Barrington coach Perry Peterson. "The young girls in our town all want to hit the ball like Loren Krzysko, and that may be the greatest compliment one can be given."
Krzysko's first home run came early in her freshman season when she used a red and blue Anderson Rocketech bat.
"It was a 31-inch bat and everyone would make fun of me for swinging such a small bat," said Krzysko, who stands 5-foot-5.
But no one can ever make fun of Krzysko's bat speed and power.
"It's a sweet feeling watching the ball go over the fence knowing you're helping your team get one step closer to a win," said Krzysko, who has helped the Fillies to 121 of them in her four years.
Arkansas caught on early to Krzysko's promising longball ability and received a verbal comittment in early June of 2012. Krzysko will probably study kinesiology in Fayetteville.
"It's a great major for student-athletes," she said. "Especially since I want to do something with sports after I graduate.
"I'm excited to be playing (softball) against the best competition, with great coaches and players. And also going to a great school and meeting lots of new people."
Krzysko met a lot of new people through softball at Barrington High School after playing for Prairie Middle School.
"I have created so many friendships with so many different girls and coaches," she said. "That's the reason I keep playing. Knowing that they sacrifice so many things and love the sport just as much as I do, is the best feeling. These friendships will last forever. Also, without my teammates, none of my accomplishments would have ever happened."
What has happened for Krzysko has been unprecedented in Barrington softball history.
It took her only three seasons to become the Mid-Suburban League's all-time leading home run hitter.
As a sophomore, she hit 12 homers to break the school's single-season mark.
In fact, it was a grand slam at Hoffman Estates that set the mark that season.
"It was a great feeling when all my teammates and I celebrated," Krzysko said.
She has celebrated many more milestones for her, and her team.
This season, she belted a home run at Buffalo Grove when the Fillies won their first MSL championship since 2008.
It should come as no surprise that Krzysko's favorite major league player, Albert Pujols, also knows something about hitting home runs (nearly 500 for his career).
"He was on my favorite team (St. Louis Cardinals) but he's also my favorite because he is such a dominant hitter," Krzysko said. "His stats are very impressive year after year. When I saw him play in St. Louis, I was so impressed with the power that he creates and just thought he was incredible and I just try to model it."
You can't deny Krzysko has done a pretty good job at that.
She has been playing the sport for as long as she can remember.
"It was never an option that I wasn't going to play," she said. "It was the second activity I ever did (the first was tap dancing), and ever since first grade I have played softball and loved it."
Krzysko also competed successfully in gymnastics but gave up that sport in seventh grade to focus on softball.
And she has been focused as well as any softball player in the area the last four years.
"Loren has had the best work ethic in our program the last four years and has been a tremendous influence on the new Fillies who have entered the program," Peterson said. "She serves as a terrific role model for all future Fillies."