Monday, October 2, 2023

Marcus softball star plays on world stage

To earn a place on the US National team, one must be elite.

Not good, not great; but the absolute best of the best–the crème de la crème.

To achieve such a distinction once in a career is an honor that more than 99 percent of softball players can only dream of.

Marcus senior Haidyn Sokoloski has done it twice.

The Oklahoma State commit said it was a rigorous process by which she became a member of the national team in both 2019 and 2021, and Sokoloski said it was no easy task.

“We had to go through many trials to make it to the final tryout in Oklahoma City,” Sokoloski said. “The first trial was held locally through my select organization. They took stats of our running speed, throwing speed, etc. The second trial was a bunch of scrimmages among each other. A select few coaches were analyzing our talent and skill level.

“Of a couple hundred girls that went through the trials across the country, about 40 made it to the tryout in Oklahoma City. This tryout consisted of two days of straight scrimmaging against the top players in the country. There was a panel of coaches in the stands analyzing every move.”

Haidyn is a 4-year varsity starter for the Lady Marauders, whom coach Christy Tumilty said “brings defensive skill, offensive power and excellent softball knowledge to our team.”

Tumilty said that Sokoloski’s greatest asset to the Marcus squad is that she can do whatever is asked of her.

“She is an athlete,” Tumilty said. “She’s so agile, strong, quick – and a gifted softball player who can contribute defensively as an outfielder and middle infielder. Her hitting abilities is what most opposing teams fear – she is so strong and has such great bat speed she can crush a home run easily or she can get a routine single and because of her speed that single quickly becomes a double. She also has the finesse to drop down a bunt when the infield is playing back and beat it out for a base hit.”

The Marcus coach said being a part of the national teams has helped Sokoloski’s game immensely.

“Playing on Team USA is such a great opportunity,” Tumilty said. “Probably her knowledge of the game grew the most – having the opportunity to be coached by top coaches and learning from them with their knowledge and philosophy and game sense. She was selected for that team because she is already a great softball player, so I doubt those coaches tried to change anything with her hitting and defensive mechanics…they just improved upon what was already there.”

Sokoloski was a member of the 2019 U17 USA National Team that defeated Mexico in the finals and the U18 USA National team, which also beat Mexico in the finals in 2021.

“It was such an amazing experience playing for Team USA and winning gold,” Sokoloski said. “There was such a sense of pride being able to put on the USA jersey and playing for your country with girls from all over the states. It was absolutely a dream come true.”

The Marcus senior, who was also a first-team all-district volleyball selection, is headed to Oklahoma State University on a softball scholarship.

“I went to several camps and visits, and Oklahoma State was different,” Sokoloski said. “The coaching staff is the best around. They treated me and my family like we were already part of the OSU family, which I loved. I also really liked their honesty and how they presented their program, their goals and trajectory of the team. The coaching staff were fairly new; at the time of my recruitment they had only been with OSU for two years. The head coach had come from the University of Florida where they had just won back to back World Series, and that was his goal at OSU. I knew I wanted to be a part of their family.”

Sokoloski said the Marcus softball program will always hold a special place in her heart for a variety of reasons.

“The coaches have been very supportive of me and allowed me to play volleyball as well as travel with Team USA,” Sokoloski said. “Only being in softball for one semester has not been an issue, as some of my very best friends are on the softball team. The team and coaches are always very welcoming, and it is fun to get back to work with them. I am excited for this year and ready to get the season started.”

The Marcus senior said she hopes more than anything that she helped to make an impact for her team.

“Hopefully, people will remember me as a team player that worked as hard as anyone and was very easy to talk to,” Sokoloski said. “I want people to remember me as someone that always gave their all and had fun along the way.”

Tumilty said there is no question about that.

“Haidyn is kind and has great character,” Tumilty said. “We always get positive remarks about her from teachers and other coaches. I am proud that she represents Marcus High School and our softball program.”

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