Softball: All smiles for Carmel and slugger Swiatkowski
Winning games and hitting home runs, two things she's done a lot in four varsity softball seasons for Carmel Catholic, make Jordan Swiatkowski smile.
Just don't expect grins galore during games.
"She's just a focused kid," Corsairs coach Shane Schueneman said of his senior catcher after her 15th homer of the season helped the Corsairs beat Stevenson 11-1 in five innings in a Class 4A regional semifinal in Lincolnshire Wednesday.
"I can't even get a smile out of her sometimes," Schueneman joked.
"All my coaches say that," said Swiatkowski, laughing. "But, yeah, I don't really like to show my emotions a lot on the field."
Know what also makes Swiatkowski smile? Neuroscience. It's what she plans to study along with psychology at Wartburg College in Iowa, where the slugger and straight-A student will also play softball. Her dad, Sean, is a forensics pathologist.
"From a young age, I remember him taking me into his office," said Swiatkowski, the oldest of four kids in her family. "It was just so cool looking at all the cells and stuff."
Not surprisingly, Swiatkowski is a cerebral hitter. Besides her 38th career homer, which tied her with Amanda Elert for second all-time in Carmel history, she added an RBI single. Her 2-for-3, 3-RBI day earned No. 5 Carmel (20-14) a berth in Saturday's 11 a.m. final at Stevenson against No. 4 Hersey.
Swiatkowski is hitting .420 with 50 RBI.
"She is a phenomenal hitter," Stevenson coach Heather Ruchim said after her 11th-seeded Patriots finished a 14-14 campaign. "She goes up there to swing the bat every single time with a purpose. She was a tough out. She's somebody who you celebrate if you get her out. If not, you pay for it usually."
Swiatkowski hit 9 homers as a freshman in helping the Corsairs place fourth in the state in Class 3A. She followed up with 7 long balls in each of the past two seasons. Her power surge has a lot to do with simple maturation.
"I feel like I'm more mature with my at-bats," Swiatkowski said. "I'm taking better approaches, seeing more pitches, looking for good pitches to hit. I know my zone better."
New this year for Swiatkowski is something she toyed with on her own and found it to be successful. As she did against Stevenson, she squares up at the plate, looking almost like she's going to bunt, and twirls the bat before taking it back while the pitcher is in her windup.
"It's probably why I've hitting a little better," Swiatkowski said. "I'm very overanxious. So when there's a slower pitcher, I hold (the bat) out in front so that I don't load too much."
Swiatkowski had the game's only extra-base hit, as Carmel reached the 20-win mark for the fifth year in a row and fourth in as many seasons under Schueneman. Sophomore Hailie Swiatkowski (Jordan's sister) walked off the win with a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. The younger Swiatkowski knocked in 2 runs in the game.
Sydney Schuda (13-5) pitched all five innings for the win, allowing 4 hits and striking out six.
Six players had RBI for Carmel, whose other offensive contributors included Marla Walinski (2-for-3, 2 runs, RBI), Schuda (1-for-3, RBI), Emy Krysa (1-for-3, 2-run single), Kyla Rapplean (1-for-2), McKenna Pett (1-for-2, 2 runs, sacrifice bunt) and Allison Novak (1-for-1, walk, sacrifice bunt, RBI).
"We hit the ball well," Schueneman said. "We came out focused from the start. The kids had a good warmup and did at the school, too."
Stevenson graduates five seniors in Miyah Brooks, Maggie O'Brien, Taylor Edelheit, Anna Fossier and Riley Housinger. O'Brien drove in the Patriots' lone run with a fourth-inning single, Housinger also had a hit, and Edelheit started in the circle.
"They've been the glue of this team," Ruchim said of her seniors. "Their presence will be really missed. We did have four freshmen this year that learned a lot from those seniors."