PCC lands Pack catcher

Published 7:37 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

Washington’s Sydney Gurkin (front row, center) signs a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Pitt CC next season. Accompanying Gurkin is her father Zach and sister Mariah (front row, left) and mother Melissa (front row, right), along with (back row, from left) Washington softball coach Doug Whitehead, Pitt CC coach Junior Bailey and Rita Langston. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, former Washington catcher Sydney Gurkin must have made one stellar second impression on Pitt CC softball coach Junior Bailey.
After showing up late for a Bulldogs’ clinic because she had mistaken the start time, Gurkin was still able to win over Bailey and win a scholarship to play for Pitt CC next season.
“She came to our first clinic about an hour late because she had the wrong time, but she came out and worked really hard from that point on,” Bailey said. “She was very persistent … She came (to the workout) and was a good catcher. She’s a good utility player as well, she swings a good bat and has good speed.”
Gurkin, who has played on the Pam Pack varsity team for the past three seasons as a catcher and third baseman, said Pitt CC was the perfect choice for her, and not just because of its strong softball program.
“I’m excited because I get to play ball after high school,” Gurkin said. “And I have always really wanted to go to Pitt because of its occupational therapy program.”
Gurkin’s scholarship and choice of school also made her parents, Melissa and Zach Gurkin, proud and pleased.
“I’m extremely happy,” Melissa said. “I’m glad that she’s going to play ball and go to school and it’s at the school she wanted to do both at.”
“I’m happy as long as she’s happy,” Zach said. “That’s what’s important to me.”
During her time with the Pam Pack Gurkin has shown tremendous athleticism and the ability to play several positions. At the plate Gurkin has been just as versatile as she batted at numerous spots in the Pack lineup. Bailey views Gurkin’s flexibility, combined with the knowledge of the game she has acquired from years of catching, as a tremendous asset.
“The way we look at our kids, with the exception of pitchers, is that they are all pretty much utility players,” Bailey said. “We have to find kids that can play a lot of different positions. I have always said as a coach if I got a lot of catchers on my team that says a lot about my team because they see the field a little differently and play the game a little differently.”
Just having a quality arm will not be enough for Gurkin to cement a spot behind the plate, she must also be able to execute the finer points of catching.
“I want to see her defensively as a catcher blocking pitches and framing pitches,” Bailey said. “The speed of the game will really jump on all of these kids. The things that you can get away with in high school you won’t be able to get away with.”
Gurkin will be given the opportunity to contend for a starting catcher spot next season but said she would be happy playing just about anywhere on the diamond.
“They told me I have to work for my position and that it’s not going to be given to me,” Gurkin said. “I would be happy playing third base or outfield too, just as long as I get a position I will be fine.”
Her team-first attitude, along with her riffle arm, are two big reasons why Washington softball coach Doug Whitehead will sorely miss the departing senior.
“She’s been a solid player. She has played anywhere we asked he to,” Whitehead said. “I have had to replace some quality catchers and she came right in and fit the bill. She at one time this year threw out 10 of 11 runners. … Teams quit running on her. She set the tone early in the season that teams will not run on us.”