Performance: Mercy's Abby Krzywiecki

May 4, 2016

Abby Krzywiecki
Farmington Hills Mercy senior – Softball

Krzywiecki appears in the MHSAA softball record book eight times – and that doesn’t include the incredible numbers she’s putting up again in this, her final high school season. This spring she’s hitting .464 with eight home runs and 38 RBI in 17 games – and she had the winning hits in both games of Friday's 2-1, 5-2 sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren Regina to earn the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week.

The senior first baseman dropped a bloop single to drive home the winning run in the sixth inning of the first game, then drilled an opposite-field three-run homer in the first inning of the second to lead the No. 2-ranked Marlins, who now sit 16-1 this season after advancing to the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago. Regina had beaten Mercy in three straight games, but the Marlins now have control in the Detroit Catholic League Central race.

Krzywiecki’s 36 career home runs in 109 games over the last four seasons rank seventh on the MHSAA career list, and she should climb at least a few more spots as she pursues the record of 49. She ranks 13th currently with 182 RBI and has a .497 career batting average, and she’s also 43-5 pitching over her varsity career. Krzywiecki committed to play collegiately at South Alabama as a sophomore and is interested in studying business.  

Coach Alec Lesko said: “As a senior and four-year starter, Abby has become a tremendous leader. Both on and off the field, Abby has shown character that helps make everyone around her better. Recently, off the field, Abby was walking the halls of Mercy High School and saw a teammate underclassmen all stressed out. Of course, Abby asked, ‘What was wrong?’ Apparently this young lady was having a tough time with a big assignment. Abby immediately stopped what she was doing and helped find the right resources and people, other teammates, to assist this fellow student to understand and complete this assignment. When I heard of this, I was by no means surprised. Abby does this all the time on the field! She has a calming effect with the team, (and) she helps younger players at practice as well as games. She is perhaps the biggest cheerleader in encouraging everyone all the time. Abby's own work ethic and dedication to her softball life is evident during games. Her stats speak for themselves. Abby is getting an incredible amount of attention this season with awards, scholarship opportunities, and top player awards and people to watch. This could be a difficult distraction to deal with, and Abby has taken it all in stride. … Abby, along with our other two senior captains, are bringing this team closer together.”

Performance Point: “I had a day when I was off (April 26 against Livonia Ladywood), so I went home and worked harder than I had in a while. I knew Regina would be a roadblock, so I worked hard to be the best player I could be not for myself but for my team. It’s not about getting my stats higher, but getting base runners in position to score for the team. I thought more about placing the ball, not hitting it as far as I can but as hard as I can. I’ve learned to not swing for the fences; if you swing hard enough with a perfect swing, it’s going to out, and I’m getting better at that mentality.”

Work pays: “To be able to see the results of my hard work paying off is pretty incredible. To know the feeling that I wasn’t wasting my time, that if I had to miss a social event, go to practice or a tournament … the numbers like the records I’ve achieved, wow – look what I can do if I set my mind to something. It blows me away how well I did just because of the support of my team, my family and my coaches, and I’m working harder than ever. It’s reassuring to know if you work really hard at something you love – softball is one of the priorities in my life – to know that if you have to miss out on things, it comes out to be the best thing for you. I’ve noticed that throughout high school.”

Sounding off: Krzywiecki’s teammates often catch her making a clicking sound with her mouth – she mentally prepares by trying to imitate the sound of the ball coming off her bat. “When I’m walking up there, you can hear me or I might do it before game one (of a doubleheader). If I’m struggling, you can see me doing it a couple of times; I’m trying to get the sound of the bat perfectly; especially with my bat, I can tell when I hit it perfectly. A lot of these girls are my best friends, and they know if I’m making that clicking noise, they let it go.”

Unfinished business: “We’re just super excited about how much potential we have. We have a lot of talent, but we have even more chemistry and teamwork and positivity. We have a great attitude, and when you have great human beings surrounding you, you’re excited to keep pushing forward to see how good you can get. It’s unrealistic to think we’ll win every single game, especially in an unpredictable sport like this, but it will be fun to see how far we get together.”

Passport ready: “I’m thinking business (at South Alabama), but I’m really into the entertainment industry. So I’m interested in working at Universal (Studios), behind the scenes there, or in international business because I like to travel. I’ve been to over half the states, I went to Paris when I was younger, obviously Canada, Hawaii twice, and Boulder, Colorado, which is my favorite place in the world. And my family is planning a trip to Italy in two summers for my parents’ anniversary. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable … so I just love to travel.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2015-16 honorees
April 27: Mike Mokma, Holland Christian baseball - Read
April 20: Abby Divozzo, Cadillac girls soccer - Read
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Farmington Hills Mercy's Abby Krzywiecki is greeted at home plate by her teammates after a home run. (Middle) Krzywiecki powers through another swing. (Photos courtesy of the Mercy athletic department and Krzywiecki family.)

Algonac Diamond Teams Hope Matching Successes Lead to East Lansing

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 24, 2023

Kenna Bommarito remembers how many people were in East Lansing a year ago to support her and her Algonac softball teammates at the Division 3 Semifinals.

Bay & ThumbSo, she has an idea of how many people from the town would show up if both the softball and baseball teams were there this time around.

“I think everyone would be,” the junior pitcher said.

There’s a decent possibility that Bommarito’s theory could be tested. The Muskrats softball team is ranked No. 2 in Division 3, and Tuesday night clinched the first Blue Water Area Conference title in program history.

That came one night after the baseball team – ranked No. 1 in Division 3 – also won its first BWAC title. The BWAC was created in 2002, and Algonac was an original member.

“It’s amazing – this town loves it,” said senior baseball player Tyler Schultz. “We’ve got a small community, and everybody is tagging along. I remember last year, a couple of our final postseason games, that was the most people I’ve ever seen at a game. All of the sports here are starting to build up. We have athletes all around the school. I think as time goes on, I think each sport will get better and better.”

Bommarito’s imagined scenario nearly played out a year ago, as both teams made their deepest postseason run.

While the softball team was making its historic run to the Semifinal, the baseball team was making one of its own, advancing to the Quarterfinal for the first time in program history.

Matthew Rix slides into home as a throw comes in.The baseball team’s movement toward this started with the 2017 and 2018 seasons, when the Muskrats won back-to-back District titles.

“We had a couple DI (college) players, and when you have those players come through, it generates excitement through the youth,” said Algonac baseball coach Scott Thaler, who took over the program in 2017. “It’s been a trickle-down effect from that initial first two years. That really set the bar. We’ve had some really good baseball players come through, and I have a great staff.”

Thaler had stressed back then that he wanted to build a program at Algonac and not have it be a flash in the pan. That certainly looks like it’s happening, and not just because his Muskrats are winning and sitting atop the state rankings.

Algonac – which has fewer than 500 students in the entire school – has junior varsity and freshman baseball teams. Thaler also said there are 25 eighth graders coming into the program next year.

“I think that when I was smaller in little league, we didn’t really have that where we went out on the field with the varsity players,” said junior pitcher Josh Kasner. “Now, that’s gotten a lot better. A lot of the smaller kids we see around town, they know who we are and about (the program).”

Of course, talent wasn’t enough to get there. Thaler needed to instill belief in his team in order to help the younger generation see what was possible.

“I was a (football assistant) coach under Scott Barnhart, and one of the things we preached to the kids back then is ‘To believe in the things you haven’t seen before,’” Thaler said. “That’s the mantra we brought to them last year, ‘Why not us?’ Just because it hasn’t happened before here doesn’t mean you can’t believe in that. We had to get them to believe.”

The Quarterfinal run provided proof beyond the belief for the Muskrats, and then the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association added to it all, naming Algonac the preseason No. 1 team in Division 3.

Luckily for Thaler, his team took it in stride.

The Muskrats huddle up in the baseball outfield.“I mean, it was a great feeling, but part of me had some doubts,” Schultz said “We’ve got some younger kids on the team, and I thought that maybe they might look at that and might get complacent, but me and some of the other seniors have done a good job of keeping all of these guys looking forward. We’ve still got one goal, and that’s to finish (with a Finals title).”

While the softball team didn’t enter the season with a No. 1 ranking, the expectations were certainly there, as was a new target on its back.

But bigger than both was motivation following a walk-off loss to Millington in the Semifinal.

“I think it just shows us that in those big games with those types of teams, you can never say never,” said first-year softball coach Natalie Heim, who was an assistant on last year’s team. “You really have to bear down. That Millington team that beat us, they fought hard. But I definitely think it fuels us more to get back.”

The softball program’s rise may have seemed more sudden to those on the outside, but senior Ella Stephenson said it had been bubbling for a while.

“My sophomore year, we had some talent for sure,” she said. “We had a really good season, but not as good as junior and senior year. The class above me was really talented. But they kind of turned the program around in my eighth-grade year, and it kind of kept building from there.”

During Stephenson’s sophomore season, the Muskrats lost a tough District game against Richmond, which went on to win the Division 3 Finals title. Not only are the Blue Devils a common early postseason opponent for the Muskrats, they’re also a conference rival. As is Almont. And Croswell-Lexington. And … It’s a brutal conference.

The Algonac softball team stands together for a team photo.So, much like the baseball team, even during the softball team’s historic 2022 season, winning the conference this spring proved to be tougher than making a deep postseason run.

That made Tuesday night’s sweep of North Branch to clinch the BWAC that much sweeter.

“Honestly, it’s a rush of just happiness,” Bommarito said. “We’re all so excited and just can’t believe we did it. We just played game-by-game today, and really took it one pitch, one out at a time.”

Not only has the BWAC prepared the Muskrats for the possibility of another deep postseason run, it helped keep them focused throughout the season.

“I think a lot of teams don’t have that luxury of facing the best competition during the season,” Heim said. “I think it keeps (the Muskrats) not looking too far ahead. We try to have that approach of one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time. It helps with having goals that are a little tougher to achieve. Winning our league, it’s tough. It’s not an easy feat. Especially after last year’s success, it would have been easy to look ahead.”

Now, with league titles secured, both teams can focus on their ultimate goals and the postseason that is directly in front of them.

All with the hope that their similarities – on top of the league titles, both teams are 29-2 as of Wednesday, and both have a University of Michigan-bound player (Kasner and Stephenson) – continue through the third weekend of June with matching trips to East Lansing.

“That’d be unreal. That would be so cool,” Stephenson said. “We all have really good friendships on the baseball and softball teams. Our records are identical. We both won our conference. It’s just really cool. I’m really happy for their success, and ours, too.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Algonac pitcher Kenna Bommarito makes her move toward the plate during last season’s Division 3 Semifinal against Millington. (2) Matthew Rix slides into home as a throw comes in. (3) The Muskrats huddle up in the baseball outfield. (4) The Algonac softball team stands together for a team photo. (Baseball photos and softball team photo courtesy of the Algonac athletic department.)