Warriors Athlete of Week: Ceynowa's sweet swing driving Warriors at plate
Clare Ceynowa doesn't have a driver's license but she can drive a softball. The Brainerd Warriors sophomore catcher enjoyed a stellar week May 6-12. In five games, she finished 8-for-18 with three home runs, including a 3-run walk-off shot to bea...
Clare Ceynowa doesn't have a driver's license but she can drive a softball.
The Brainerd Warriors sophomore catcher enjoyed a stellar week May 6-12. In five games, she finished 8-for-18 with three home runs, including a 3-run walk-off shot to beat Rocori. Her week also included two doubles, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored.
Her week included games against Willmar, Rocori and Coon Rapids. Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said he didn't realize how productive of a week the 15-year-old had until he was compiling her stats to nominate her for Central Lakes Conference Player of the Week.
"I was like 'Holy cow. Clare had a really great week against really tough competition,'" Jordan said. "The combined record of all of those teams we played last week was 47-11 so we weren't playing cupcakes. She was hitting the ball all over the place. That was a huge week for her."
Ceynowa said her walk-off blast came with two out and a 3-1 count.
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- Sport: Softball
- Position: Catcher/third base
- Year: Sophomore
- Age: 15
- Height: 5-8
- Career highlight: Hitting walk-off home run vs. Rocori last week
- Other sports: Volleyball
- Grade-point average: 3.782
- Favorite class: Math with Mr. Diede
- Favorite food: Salmon
- Favorite movie: "Best of Me"
- Favorite TV show: "Friends"
- Favorite website: Instagram
- Favorite restaurant: Ernie's on Gull
- Future plans: Attend college, major in sports medicine
- Favorite softball player: Minnesota Gophers catcher Kendyl Lindaman
- Parents: Chris and Kelley Ceynowa
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"I had the green light," she said. "My coaches were like 'Go ahead, swing away. We trust you,' and I was like 'OK.'
"I was thinking I've just got to put the ball in play. I was hoping for a good strike probably like any batter. It comes in and I'm like 'Oh, this is perfect,' and I just hit it."
She leads, or is tied for, the team lead in five offensive categories-doubles (8), home runs (6), RBIs (28), walks (10) and batting average (.491.)
Ceynowa generates a sweet swing, one that's mechanically and technically sound.
"She's got a quick bat, and quick hands. She's almost too quick sometimes and I know that sounds a little silly," Jordan said. "She has made herself a good player in the offseason. She's worked hard. She's done the little things it takes in the offseason to not only tweak her swing, but to get physically stronger.
"I could tell coming into this season that she worked in the weight room. She got herself physically stronger, which has helped her be a better softball player and a better athlete in general."
Ceynowa credits her dad, Chris, a former catcher for the Minnesota State Mankato baseball team, and Mike Carter, director of the Minnesota Vortex Fastpitch organization in the Twin Cities, for helping refine her swing.
"I have to give most of (the credit) to my dad because ever since I was super young he was always the one working with me, coaching me, helping me in the garage, taking me to lessons," Ceynowa said. "I work really hard in the offseason. This winter, I was going to the Cities twice a week to play, to get coaching down there. They really helped me with my swing too, to perfect it, little mechanics and stuff.
"Mike Carter, I'm playing for his team this summer. He's helped me a lot, and my (Brainerd) coaches. They're super supportive. It's just great to have that. It feels great to have that support system of friends and family."
Ceynowa is not only a dangerous hitter. She's been the Warriors' primary catcher this season as Elaina Christiansen moved to center field as she recovers from an injury. Jordan said Ceynowa has been the team's "captain" behind the plate.
"Clare has grown immensely as a catcher," Jordan added. "Last year, she was really young and you could tell it. This year, she's improved her game. Her blocking has improved drastically and she's got a great arm. She can throw people out all the time.
"Her upside is tremendous. She needs to be a better communicator, but she's still young. She's still a 10th-grader. She has things to work on, but her improvement from last year to this year is tremendous. I'm excited to see where she goes the next few years."
Ceynowa agrees her ability to block pitches has improved this spring.
"Along with my hitting, this winter I worked really hard to perfect my blocking because I was not a very good blocker last year," Ceynowa said. "This winter, I worked hard to perfect my blocking and my throw downs, and I think it's really showing. I'm pretty happy with how it's been going."
Ceynowa's skills have landed her a spot on the Minnesota A's Maroon team, the Vortex's top 16U team. She said the tryout included about 100 girls who were vying for about a dozen open spots on the Vortex's three 16U teams.
"They ran us through drills and metrics then did scrimmages," Ceynowa said. "Then after I tried out, I was approached by Mike and he said 'I want you on my team,' and I was like, 'Oh, OK.' It was so weird because I wasn't expecting that at all.
"June 1st we have a tournament in St. Paul. The following weekend we're in Illinois, the following weekend we're in Washington. We're all over the place. I'm really excited."
Ceynowa may be the team's top hitter and a leader behind the plate. But Jordan's most proud of her attention to academics.
"She's a great student in school," he said. "She's a smart kid. The sky's the limit for her softball-wise. I know she wants to play college softball. Because she's so strong academically her options are wide open as far as where she can go.
"She's got tons of potential. She's a big, strong kid."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
• Katie Foley, girls golf, was medalist in a CLC meet at Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls.
• Alyssa Copham, girls lacrosse, scored three goals vs. Columbia Heights.
• Gavin Metz, boys golf, was medalist in a CLC meet at Rich Springs Golf Club.
• McCale Peterson, baseball, pitched a 1-hit shutout vs. Fergus Falls and went 3-for-4 with a double vs. Sauk Rapids.
• Jordyn Sullivan, softball, pitched a 2-hit shutout and went 3-4 vs. Fergus Falls
• Josie Kramer and Britney Fletcher, girls lacrosse, scored four and three goals, respectively, vs. Rocori.
• Jeff Spieker, boys track and field, broke the school record in the 300 hurdles in the Brainerd Invite and won two events and was on a winning relay in the Section 8-3A True Team Meet..
• Connor Powers, boys track and field, won two events in the Brainerd Invite.
• Lili Charlier, girls track and field, won two events in the Brainerd Invite and in the Section 8-3A True Team Meet.