MILFORD >> Despite being a member of the oft-overlooked Constitution State Conference, Platt Tech has been a juggernaut in softball, winning 16 tech school conference titles since 1992.
During that span, the Panthers have produced several quality players, including pitchers Alyssa Morrell and Ashley Taylor and catcher Alyssa Donovan, who was a Register All-Area selection in 2012.
Platt Tech coach Sue Murphy puts current senior Brooke Pawlak in the conversation with those former standouts.
“(Pawlak) is top 5 without a doubt,” said Murphy, now in her 25th season as head coach.
With most of her senior season still remaining, Pawlak has already established herself as one of the most prolific players in Platt Tech history. But it’s more than Pawlak’s athletic ability that Murphy holds in such high regard.
“As far as her character and what kind of person she is, she’s top 1 or 2,” Murphy said. “We always stress more of the quality of the person and, again, I can’t think of a kid that’s had better character than Brooke Pawlak.”
Pawlak, an Ansonia resident, is a member of the National Honor Society and student council and is ranked third in her class. After school, when she doesn’t have practice or a game, she works two jobs. She spent four years on the volleyball team and played basketball for three, finally choosing free time over an extracurricular for the winter season of her senior year.
“She’s one of those kids that somehow does it all and does it all well, which is very unusual,” Murphy said.
Pawlak was the starting first baseman her freshman year. When Morrell graduated in 2011, Pawlak became the Panthers’ starting pitcher.
Last season, Pawlak went 16-4 in the circle and led the Panthers to the CSC tournament championship. She also batted .426 and earned all-league honors for the third time.
As a youngster, Pawlak played a number of positions before experimenting with pitching. Pawlak continued to develop in the circle and even hired a pitching coach, former Seymour standout Kim Bogen. Pawlak has evolved into arguably the best pitcher in the CSC. It’s a position that seems to fit both Pawlak’s ability and personality.
“The only thing with pitching is that it’s always on you,” Pawlak said. “You’re always the focus because every play involves you. I do feel a lot of pressure a lot of the time, but’s it’s also a lot of fun. I like it.”
Pawlak has remained humble despite being the best player on the field in most games. Murphy praised that attribute even more than Pawlak’s ability.
“He leadership is her strength,” Murphy said. “Obviously she’s the best pitcher in the league, and her bat is probably the best in the league, but it’s just the way she acts. She’s unassuming, she’s not cocky at all. She’s the best player out there but she doesn’t act that way at all. She’s a great leader by example. She sets the bar high every day. It’s easy to coach a kid like that.”
Pawlak’s best softball memories do not involve individual accomplishments. She was most excited about helping Murphy get her 400th career victory, in addition to winning the league title last season.
“I believe it says a lot about our coaching,” Pawlak said. “She prides herself in not only our ability on the field, but also in the classroom. She gets the most out of people who are dedicated and involved, and those that actually want to play the sport to learn and grow.”
Pawlak will attend Springfield College and major in physical therapy, but she is choosing not to play softball at the next level. So Pawlak’s attempt at ending her career in style will have to take place soon. The Panthers are currently 3-0 and favored to repeat as league champions.
“When I first came here I saw all of those titles, and last year we won the first one since I’ve been here,” Pawlak said. “It would be nice to win one more, but whatever happens, happens. I’m happy that I was able to play with this team for four years. My last year will be special even if we don’t go all the way.”