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Chelsea and Sydney Matzko: Softball is in their blood.

POSTED May 01, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Chelsea and Sydney Matzko. The senior (left) and the freshman (right) are leading the Torrington girls softball team in 2011. Both are talented pitchers, hitters and fielders who play softball year round.

TORRINGTON- You can’t miss the family resemblance. Sister’s Chelsea and Sydney Matzko look as though they are much closer in age then the three years that separate the two Torrington High School softball standouts.

You also can’t miss the determination that streams from their faces when they step across the white chalk line and enter the arena of choice for both: the softball diamond.

The Matzko sisters, Chelsea the senior and Sydney the freshman, have helped the Raiders to a healthy 8-4 record as the spring season rounds the bend for the second time.

Both are specialist who join a growing trend of athletes who play just one sport, year round.

Each is a force to be reckoned with on the mound, in the batters box and in the field of play.

Chelsea Matzko throws right handed; Sydney Matzko left handed. That’s a tough combination for opponents to deal with.

This year the Raiders have also used senior Mollie Bartles, giving them three options as the season rolls on.

Both bat right handed and are outstanding contact hitters; something both of them pride themselves in.

The days of hitting and throwing something began for Chelsea Matzko at the age of five with T-Ball and progressed to Little League, AAU and high school.

Chelsea Matzko decided at about the seventh or eighth grade level that it was going to be softball full time.

“I was very busy with softball year round with AAU,” the senior said, “I didn’t think I would have time to do everything else so I decided to stick with just softball.”

When the high school season rolls around, it’s an adjustment for any athlete who plays at a high level in travel or club.

During those seasons, the players compete against other players who are as intense as they are about softball each and every time out.

Their Naugatuck Valley League opponents don’t usually match-up with the level of competition they play against the rest of the season.

As Chelsea Matzko developed her game, she played along side another standout during her sophomore year, Kat Zagrodnik.

Throwing multiple games in a short period of time is nothing new for softball pitchers who can lesson the chance of injury with proper mechanics on the hill, something both sisters work hard to do.

“It doesn’t bother me to throw a lot,” Chelsea Matzko said, “It’s good when we have more options but if I have too, I can handle the load.”

The load has been lessoned this year with the arrival of her freshman sister, who has taken the NVL by storm.

Sydney Matzko has already matching up against one of the best in the league once already this season and even though the outcome was not favorable to the Raiders, heads where turned.

When Torrington hosted league rival Holy Cross on April 18, Sydney Matzko took the hill against Tori Cheske, an all-world hurler who has been a strikeout machine this year.

Sydney Matzko was just as nasty on that Monday, striking out 13 in a 2-0 loss to the Crusaders. Cheske fanned 16 but came away with the win when the young Raiders defense committed five errors.

The blood was flowing for this ninth grader before and during her match up with one of the games best.

“I was really pumped up,” Sydney Matzko said, “I didn’t really think about who was pitching for them but new I had to be at my best to give us a chance.”

A week from Monday, the two teams meet again in Waterbury.

Cross is currently 9-2 staring play this week. The Crusaders lost to Naugatuck 6-0 last week, a team the Raiders beat by a 1-0 score in the second game of the year.

Sydney Matzko waited till she was six before she started T-Ball but has followed a similar path as her older sister to where she is today.

This summer she will play on an elite team as a member of the Connecticut Eliminators U 18 Gold after playing last year for the Connecticut Wicked out of Newtown.

Wicked could be one way to describe the Sydney Matzko throws her six some odd pitches which in some cases, have topped off at a speed of 61 miles per hour.

“I throw a two-seam fastball, a change, a drop, a curve, a screwball and a riser,” Sydney Matzko said, “Depending on the team we are facing, I may throw all of them or just a few.”

Neither sister sees the other as competition, although don’t kid yourself, both are very competitive.

“We are both just trying to be they best we can be and be who we are,” Sydney Matzko said, “We both have a drive inside us that makes us want to be the best.”

Domination and determination have been seen this season from both pitchers.

Against Crosby on April 19 at home, Sydney Matzko put the losing streak in the rear view mirror with a dominating, 10-strikeout, 11-0 win that started the Raiders current six game winning streak.

Two days later on a blustery afternoon at Municipal Stadium, it was older sisters turn to shine and show some grit.

Chelsea Matzko and the Raiders fell behind by a 4-0 score after one but clawed their way back to win 5-4 in a game between teams who had identical 3-4 records coming in.

A big win? Huge. On the road in beyond miserable conditions, Chelsea Matzko shut down the Hearts the rest of the way and got help from Sydney Matzko, who blasted a game tying home run in the fifth before driving in the go ahead run in the top of the seventh.

What will the future bring for both?

For Chelsea Matzko, she will play softball at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania next fall while she studies pre-med.

For Sydney Matzko, she gets to play the rest of this high school season with her sister while trying to get her team in position to make a run into the States, which the Raiders have already qualified for.

The weeks ahead get busy for two sisters who love everything about their chosen sport and are looking to make the Raiders 2011 campaign, one to remember for a long time.


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