Swinging for the Fences
The Future is Bright for CHS Softball Standout Stormy Kotzelnick
Photographer: Michael Durr
As one of the most dominant high school softball players in the U.S. since her freshman year, Kotzelnick was recruited by several colleges very early — as a seventh grader, if you can believe it. She verbally committed to the University of Washington in eighth grade, and in the process became the first 2020 high school grad in the nation to verbally commit to a Division I college.
“It was kind of overwhelming to be talking to colleges in middle school, but my parents were always there for me and helped me manage the process to make it easier for me,” Kotzelnick says. “I actually felt having to go through that, with getting a lot of attention, was good for my growth process and learning to deal with that part of it.”
Kotzelnick’s parents Kathy and John, both softball devotees themselves (they met while playing in the Indianapolis Sports Park’s coed softball league), got her started in softball at the age of four, and she immediately displayed an affinity for the game.
“I liked the game as soon as I started playing it, and my parents always supported me and helped me along the way from there,” Kotzelnick recalls. “I knew by middle school that I wanted to continue my athletic career in college.”
And her numbers speak for themselves — she’s kept her batting average above .400 for her entire high school career thus far, with an on-base percentage well over .500. While she primarily plays third base in the field, Kotzelnick has played shortstop, outfield and second base, and relishes the challenges each position can bring.
“I look at it as trying to be a versatile athlete rather than being a position player,” says Kotzelnick, who also plays for the Beverly Bandits, an elite travel softball squad based in Chicago.
Kathy, who played softball and basketball at Carmel High School and eventually went on to play both sports at the University of Indianapolis, says her daughter’s work ethic never ceases to surprise her and John.
“No kid works like she does,” Kathy says. “She stays just as busy during the off-season as when she’s playing games. She understands that to be successful she has to work with her personal trainers and her hitting and fielding coaches and put in the time. We try to have a good balance with her too and tell her to take a day off now and then if she wants to go do something fun.”
With all the attention she’s received at such a young age, Kotzelnick says focusing on daily training and supporting her Carmel teammates keeps her grounded.
“There’s always a lot of stuff on social media and things like that and that stuff can affect you, but, in the end, I know what kind of player I am,” she says. “I know that I earned everything that I have and where I’ve gotten.”
While many young athletes might see their passion for a sport wane after training year in and year out as Kotzelnick continues to do, she’s as excited about the game of softball as she’s ever been.
“My peers and coaches always ask me how I don’t get burnt out with playing and training so much, and it’s really because, during game times, when something good happens, it’s an amazing feeling knowing that you’ve earned what just happened in that situation,” she says. “That’s what keeps me going.”
Kotzelnick led the way once again for the Greyhounds in her junior season with stat lines ranking well above the national average this spring. At the time of press, the Greyhounds softball team finished up a strong season, especially in conference, and were headed to the 4A Softball State Tournament.
Kotzelnick is focused on making next season, her senior year, special as she aims to end her high school career with a state championship for the Greyhounds. She looks forward to her upcoming college career with the Washington Huskies under head coach Heather Tarr, the winningest coach in any sport at the school. Tarr’s 2009 team won the Women’s College World Series, and six of her teams have made appearances at the Series.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most for college is the opportunity to play under Coach Tarr,” Kotzelnick says. “I also can’t wait to be in Seattle and enjoy what the city has to offer.”