Catching her dream: Riley’s Savannah Kulcsar making history behind the plate
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Across the country, high school spring athletes are finally get their chance to have a season since last year’s was cancelled due to the pandemic.
As a high school athlete, you probably don’t expect to be a trailblazer.
But for one Riley player, she’s breaking barriers one pitch at a time.
“It was just something I wanted to take on,” Riley catcher Savannah Kulcsar said. “Something I wanted to challenge myself and try something new.”
Seventeen-year-old Savannah Kulcsar is just like any high school senior, enjoying prom, getting ready for college and spending the final moments with her teammates.
But there’s just one thing different.
“I have wanted to play baseball since I was little but I never got the opportunity,” Kulcsar said. “They always made the girls switch over to softball anyways. This is just a dream that became a reality at some point. I was not expecting it to ever come true.”
Last winter, Savannah started working out with both the RIley softball and baseball teams.
It didn’t take long for her to make a choice
“She earned the respect of everyone pretty much immediately,” Riley head coach Vince DeDario said. “There were a couple of guys that were giving her a hard time and by her play and just by her general attitude, put them in their place.”
Having played softball since she was four, there was a slight learning curve for Kulcsar.
“So throwing a softball, I have to use all five fingers and with a baseball, I can’t do that because it creates more friction on the ball,” Kulcsar said. “So I had to learn and teach myself how to throw with less fingers.”
Head Coach Vince DeDario calls her the ultimate utility player as she’s seen playing time behind the plate, at second and in the outfield.
But Savannah still wants to show she’s where she belongs.
“I feel like I have to be proving something at all times whether it’s to my teammates, opposing teams, other coaches or just our own coaches,” Kulcsar said.
Her teammates have accepted her as their little sister...even though she’s technically older than them.
“I’m just another teammate on the team,” Kulcsar said. “They get on me the same as they would other people. They encourage me.”
In a season already unlike any other, having Savannah on his team has challenged and inspired DeDario as a father of three girls.
“It’s been really good for me to expand my horizons as a coach and as a dad frankly as to what the possibilities are for girls and my daughters,” DeDario said.
Even though she’s in her one and only season as a member of the Wildcats baseball team, Savannah certainly doesn’t want be the last girl to play baseball in Michiana.
“Try it,” Kulcsar said. “Like see if you can find a place and try it and keep working at it. I mean there has to be someone out there that will allow you to play baseball instead of softball. I’m hoping that more teams start to open up to the idea of girls playing baseball. "
After this season, Savannah will be heading to Purdue to study biological sciences but still wants to find her way on to the diamond through intramurals.
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