Carson’s Grkman gives Spartans a lefty bat
CHINA GROVE — It obviously didn’t take long for UNC-Greensboro softball coach Janelle Breneman to like what she saw in Sidney Grkman.
She watched the Carson outfielder in a camp at her school in January and made an offer in May.
Grkman accepted, of course.
“It was a pretty easy decision,” Grkman smiled. “Those facilities are really beautiful and the campus is amazing. I fell in love with it.”
Breneman, who takes over the program this year, hopes Grkman will help make the softball team a yearly contender in the Southern Conference. The Spartans were only 26-32 last season and 10-14 in the SoCon. Breneman comes over from the SEC, where she spent the last two seasons as the top assistant at South Carolina. She also coached in the ACC. So Grkman knows there are some intense practices ahead.
“The work and dedication is going to be a whole lot more than high school,” said Grkman, who batted .619 for the Cougars last season in a 17-7 season. The left-hander had 39 hits, scored 27 runs and had a on-base percentage of .500.
Mike Ward, who helped coach Grkman on Team North Carolina, an 18-under travel squad, thinks Grkman can contribute immediately.
“I think she’ll have a chance to play when she gets there,” Ward said. “Hitting from the left side helps. A lot of colleges definitely look for that. She has a big stick and hits very well to the opposite field. She’ll do very well.”
Breneman echoed Ward.
“Sidney is a left-handed stick who will add pop to the lineup,” she said.
Grkman, who also considered UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington, joins a talented UNC-G recruiting class, which includes shortstop Hagan Kiser of Southwestern Randolph, Emily Lopez of Charlotte Olympic, who can play multiple positions, Kendall McKinney, who set a home-run record at her high school in Suwanee, Ga., and first-baseman Tory Wright of Potomac Falls, Va., who hit .516.
Grkman has plenty of accolades so far in her Carson career. She is a three-time all-county and all-conference selection and helped Carson to its best season ever last spring.
“I felt really good for the seniors to go far,” Grkman said of the 2012 Cougars. “I was proud of how everybody played. We played to our full potential.”
That included a North Piedmont Conference tournament championship. This year, however, she will be the only senior.
“Hopefully, they’ll have me in a leading role,” said Grkman, who won’t have the added pressure of making a college choice. “We want to succeed as much as we can and beat last year’s record.”
The Grkmans are a family of college athletes. Dad Jim played football at Appalachian State and brother Zack is currently a successful defensive back at Averett University, located in Danville, Va.
“It’s nice following my brother,” Sidney said. “It’s good having both kids athletic.”
Ward noticed the athleticism when Grkman first joined Team North Carolina.
“Actually she has played with us since she was 15,” he said. “This was her third full summer. I knew she could play college ball. She worked so hard on her hitting and that’s why she’s going to a D-I school.”
A school with a new coach and high expectations.
“I’m so excited,” Grkman said. “It will be a real good experience.”