LA GRANGE PARK – Many softball players are happy to excel at one or two aspects of the game. Nazareth's Mary Grace Chizewski is truly a well-rounded player.
The Roadrunners' junior shortstop had a breakout season and became one of the team's best players and leaders. Due to her strong season Chizewski is the all-area MVP.
"Her stats were not the best on our team, but the value she brings is so much more than numbers," Nazareth coach Kristen Stojetz said. "Offensively, defensively, leadership, taking the extra base, she is a very good all-around player."
That's not to say her stats weren't impressive. Chizewski hit .350 with 16 extra base hits and a team-high 34 RBIs. She led the Roadrunners with a .610 slugging percentage and thanks to 21 walks was third on the team with a .460 on-base percentage.
Her 21 walks led the team and her combination of patience and power is the kind of thing baseball stat geeks drool over. Chizewski admitted that waiting for her pitch is a big part of her approach at the plate.
"It's just having a good eye and not swinging at bad pitches, knowing the strike zone and being able to work it," Chizewski said. "I had a lot of walks and I've always had a lot of walks. It's not that I try to get that many walks, but I know what's a good pitch and what's a bad pitch."
She began her career on varsity as a freshman and first started sophomore year. Stojetz noted how Chizewski made great strides from last year to this spring.
Stojetz noticed her improvement in the offseason and slotted her into the crucial No. 4 spot in the lineup from the first day of the season. She held onto that spot the whole year.
"I really put in the time in the offseason to improve," Chizewski said. "Last year was my first year starting every game and I really wanted to improve from last year so I took the extra time and effort and it really helped. Last summer I would hit at least two days a week and that really paid off in the long run."
She started in T-ball and actually stayed with baseball until she was nine. The La Grange Park resident didn't want to play slow-pitch softball at first and laughed when saying she was better than some of the boys on the baseball teams.
As more and more girls made the switch to softball, Chizewski eventually followed suit and fell in love.
"I played volleyball and basketball, but always loved softball," she said. "It was the sport I loved most."
With one year left of high school, she is hoping to play in college. This summer she is playing for the Wilmette Rockers travel team with players from all over the Chicagoland area, including one player from Indiana.
She will be one of Nazareth's senior leaders this year, and hopes to make a similar impression on the younger girls like the current senior class left on her.
"I had great teammates," Chizewski said. "Katelyn Cahill and all the older girls were great role models."