Voytek co-captain for Walsh
Natalie Voytek of Cortland is hoping to capitalize on her years of athletic experience to become an effective team leader in her senior season with the Walsh University softball team.
Voytek, a senior center fielder for Walsh and a 2001 graduate of Lakeview High who has been playing sports since she was 8 years old, was chosen one of three co-captains for the Cavaliers next season, joining senior Lindsay Bauer and junior Kendra Shoup.
"The coaches and players in combination pick the captains," said Voytek, who feels honored by her selection and also hopes to continue her outstanding play from last season when she had the third-highest batting average on the team (.349 on 45-for-129).
She also scored 16 runs and had nine RBIs and seven doubles to help the Cavaliers to a 26-18 record under coach Ed Vargo, who will be entering his 11th season at the helm with a 287-176-1 career record at Walsh.
Vargo formerly coached at Jackson-Milton and South Range high schools. He originated the J-M softball program in 1988 and served as a volunteer assistant at South Range.
"I was captain of my high school soccer team," said Voytek, who played four years of softball and soccer at Lakeview. "I definitely gained a lot of leadership skills. It helped you to get closer to your teammates. You tend to take the younger girls under your wing and coach them."
She wants to do the same thing at Walsh.
"At Walsh, we are very big on helping the younger girls academically and athletically," she said. "We spend a lot of time traveling in a van, so we have to help them, just like others took us under their wing before."
She hopes to provide them direction.
"Basically we try to show them what it takes to make it through academics and sports. We become almost as a family and try to help each other out," said Voytek, who has coached indoor youth soccer while in high school and would like to become a high school soccer and softball coach.
She began playing softball at 8 years old and soccer at 10 and then joined a traveling softball team at 12.
"My mom, Lisa, got me started. I always loved sports. I used to play Wiffle Ball with my dad [Matt] when I was smaller," said Voytek, who is majoring in education with emphasis on middle childhood, social studies and language art.
She will do her student teaching in the fall of 2005, and plans to teach grades 4-9.
First solid season
A two-year letterwinner, Voytek enjoyed her first solid season last spring as a successor in center field to two-time All-American Shannon Kohl (Austintown Fitch).
"The first two years in college, I didn't play that well, not anywhere near my potential," said Voytek. "Defense always was my strong point."
In 2002 as a sophomore, Voytek helped Walsh win the AMC title (18-2), qualify for the NAIA national tournament and compile a 39-18 record.
But Kohl was the team leader with a school-record .485 batting average in 51 games and made first-team NAIA All-American for the second straight year.
Kohl is Walsh's all-time leader in career batting average (.450), hits (276), triples (16) and runs scored (163).
McCall wins award
Ashley McCall of Canfield, a four-year member of the Ohio University women's golf team and a recent graduate, has won another honor for her academic achievements.
McCall, who achieved a 3.99 grade-point average as a finance and accounting major, won the John E. Reynolds award from the College of Business.
The award recognizes outstanding achievements by an undergraduate student planning a career in the insurance industry.
A graduate of Canfield High where she also was on the golf team, McCall made the Dean's List for every quarter at OU.
She also was named to the National Golf Coaches Association Division I All-Scholar team.
XJohn Kovach is a sports writer for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.