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Flashback to 4/4/13. Just How Good Can Torrington's Sydney Matzko Get? Story by John Torsiello.
When you have set the bar as high as Torrington lefthander Sydney Matzko has in her first two seasons of high school softball what can she do for an encore? Get better? Well, Matzko, now a junior, thinks she can. Listen to the Raider star hurler.
“I’ve worked hard to get stronger and gain speed and have a tighter spin on the ball. I feel that I have more control of my pitches. I have also gained speed.”
Ok, that’s scary for opposing batters. The numbers Matzko has put up in her first two years at Torrington are mind boggling. After a freshman season in which she pitched 98 innings, striking out 157 batters, walking only 15 and posting a 1.86 earned run average, she followed with one of the best seasons in Connecticut schoolgirl history. She fanned 338 batters, walked only 14, threw four no-hitters and recorded a ridiculous 0.28 ERA as a sophomore. It’s no wonder the coaches at the University of North Carolina are chomping at their bits as they wait for Matzko to join them after she graduates next year. Oh yeah, the 16-year-old can swing the metal and hit .313 last year with two homers and 28 RBI.
The All-Stater is the biggest reason Torrington will contend for a Naugatuck Valley League title this season after winning its first ever Copper Division championship, reaching the finals of the NVL tournament and the Class L quarterfinals last year. Matzko has simple yet lofty goals for the new campaign that starts this week.
“I want to keep improving as a player and pitcher and as a team win NVLs and go far in the state tournament.”
Torrington head coach Maryann Musselman, whose club was scheduled to open up at home against Holy Cross in a key early-season contest Wednesday, has a veteran and talented lineup returning to make a run at NVL and state titles. In addition to Matzko, the lefty’s battery mate, sophomore Marissa Morris, an All-Copper Division selection in 2012, returns, as do senior Baylee Vinikso, juniors Aunchlee Reilly, Sarah Heath, Dakota Manson, Coleen Muse, Nicole Jamieson, Alexa Potter and Sam Pelow, and sophomores Brittany Young and Brittany Anderson.
Matzko and Morris quickly bonded and formed a cohesive battery. It is obvious that Matzko trusts her catcher, which makes her free to throw the ball where and how she wants and Morris will do the rest, a nice feeling for a hurler.
With Matzko on the mound, opposing teams aren’t going to score many runs this season. But the Raiders will have to improve at the plate if they want to go all the way. Losses to Woodland and Seymour last season came by a total of only five runs and wins over Naugatuck, Watertown and Holy Cross were closer than they had to be because of a lack of timely offense.
Matzko is pleased with her development at Torrington.
“I feel things have gone well. We have been successful for the most part and have improved as a team.”
While she has a sizzling fastball, Matzko doesn’t concern herself with trying to top out on the radar gun.
“I try not to worry about the numbers. Speed isn’t the most important factor in a pitch's effectiveness.”
If she wasn’t striking out batters she would be one of the most fearsome hitters the league. Even as a full-time hurler she’s tough at the plate and the numbers back that up. In addition to her .315 average last year she hit .361 as a freshman with 15 RBI.
“Hitting is fun for me. I don't put half as much time into it as I do pitching though, so I just enjoy it for what it is.”
She is committed to getting better during her final two years in high school before she heads off for the warmer weather of the Carolinas.
“I’m just going to work hard like I am and don't let up. You always have to look at it as if there is someone out there working harder than you.”
As for her looming collegiate career, she observed, “I'm very much looking forward to playing in college. I couldn't be happier with the choice I made in verbally committing to the University of North Carolina. Everything about it seems like a perfect fit and I will continue to prepare myself by playing for the Gold Coast Hurricanes out of Florida this summer, as well as with strength and conditioning workouts.”
But first there’s this spring and Sydney Matzko will be on the mound, trying to deliver the Raiders to the winner’s circle.