Fire-Balling Sydney Matzko A Lefty to Watch. By John Torsiello.
Torrington sophomore lefty Sydney Matzko was her usual dominating self this week.
On Wednesday, she hurled a two-hitter, striking out 12 batters in leading the Raiders to their sixth win of the season, 3-2, over arch-rival Naugatuck. The fire-balling southpaw, whose heat reaches into the 60’s, threw another two-hitter on Friday, this time against Woodland, fanning 10 batters. However, her teammates couldn’t muster a run and the Raiders fell, 1-0. Woodland’s Brooke Leshin drilled a first inning homer for the game’s only run, and Matzko allowed just one hit the rest of the way.
Still, not bad. The two-game line: 14 innings, four hits, three runs, 22 strikeouts. Matzko’s only other loss was a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Seymour early in the 2012 campaign.
Matzko’s performance thus far this year is, of course, not unexpected, after a brilliant season as a freshman when she pitched 98 innings, struck out 157 batters and walked only 15, She allowed opponents to hit only .140 against her and she posted a 1.86 earned run average. She can also swing the bat, as evidenced by her .361 average last year and 15 RBI.
With the poise she shows on the mound, it’s hard to imagine she is just 16 years old.
“She is just so focused when she is on the field,” said Torrington head coach Maryann Musselman. ”She just manages to block everything out of her mind. She’s coachable, knows the game and is a smart, articulate young woman.”
Matzko began playing softball at the age of seven and was playing with a travel team two years later.
“I've always excelled in it,” she says of softball. “It's always come easy to me. I just played and it seemed to click when I started. I felt that I was a natural to this sport.”
Musselman believes the lean, 5-10 Matzko has gotten stronger this season, which has helped her speed and control.
“She worked hard in the off-season and it shows.”
Matzko says she has gained speed and movement on her pitches.
“I'm more confident in my pitches and in my game.”
She has all the pitches but says her screwball is her out pitch when she needs one in the clutch.
She displayed that tough-in-the-clutch mentality during Wednesday’s win over Naugy. The Greyhounds, down a run, got two runners on base with just one out in the top of the sixth. But Matzko fanned the next two batters with neither getting a piece of the ball. She can be that dominant at times.
The honor student has been clocked at 63 miles an hour and says her goal is to notch that up at least a few more miles an hour. She says being a lefty is definitely an advantage as a pitcher.
“It makes me unique and lets me have an advantage on both lefties and righties.”
She also says she enjoys swinging the bat as well as chucking the ball from the mound.
“I love to hit,” she comments.
She knows she has work to do to become the complete pitcher she knows she can be, saying, “I’ve got to work on my speed and spins.”
Matzko and freshman catcher Marissa Morris have quickly bonded and formed a cohesive unit on the field. It is obvious that Matzko trusts her catcher, which makes her free to throw the ball where and how she wants it and Morris will do the rest, a nice feeling for a hurler.
“I feel like we're becoming closer as the season goes on,” Matzko said of her battery mate.
Several colleges have shown an interest in Matzko pitching for them at the next level, although she doesn’t have a favorite at this point, preferring to “keep my options open.” She would like to go somewhere in the South, perhaps to an Atlantic Coast Conference or Southeastern Conference school.
But that’s down the road and Musselman is pleased to have Matzko around for another two and a half seasons as the pillar around which the mentor hopes to build a Naugatuck Valley League and state title contender
Matzko is in a good place, she says.
Of THS, she observed, “It's been a good experience. I've made a lot of friends and I've had a lot of support.”
If she gets a little more run support against good opposing pitcher, there’s no telling where Sydney Matzko and the Raiders can go.