Fantastic foursome will miss teammates, program’s unique chemistry
A member of the Lynn family has played for the success-soaked Garden City softball program for the past 13 years – a run that is remarkable, if not unprecedented.
The streak ended June 11 when senior Natalie Lynn – the youngest of the Lynn quartet – played her last game in the Division 1 tournament, an 8-6 regional semifinal loss to Allen Park.
Lynn was one of four fantastic seniors on the Cougars’ 2022 squad, which compiled a sterling record of 30-9. Jacklynn Antonchik, Stephanie Arnold and Meghan Wladysiak are the other final-year stars.
“I remember going to all of my older sisters’ games at Garden City since I was little,” Lynn recounted. “I’m really going to miss this once it’s over. Being on the field with my teammates, cheering each other on and, obviously, the coaches. I’ve been around Barry (Patterson) as long as I can remember. He’s made me better as a player and as a person. He’s always asking his players how they’re doing. He cares a lot, not just about softball but outside of softball.”
Wladysiak is the lone member of her family to play softball at Garden City, but she does have two brothers who played baseball for the Cougars. Headed to Madonna University in the fall to play for the Crusaders’ volleyball program, Wladysiak said there is something special about her school’s softball program.
“It was easy to form bonds with my teammates,” she said. “It’s like being part of a big family. There’s a closeness that is hard to put into words.”
The sure-handed middle infielder said her fundamentals improved immensely since her freshman year at GC.
“When I first came here, my throwing mechanics were crazy,” she said, chuckling. “Which wasn’t good considering I was a shortstop and second baseman. But the coaches worked with me and before I knew it, I was throwing like everybody else.”
Arnold, a four-year varsity player who excels at both corner-infield spots and on the mound, said missing the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 shutdown left a void for everyone involved in the program.
“It was upsetting because we had our entire team coming back from my freshman-year team (2019),” she said. “We were extremely confident and I know we would have had an incredible season. So that was tough to accept.”
Arnold reiterated Lynn’s thoughts on how much she learned from the Patterson-led coaching staff.
Unlike her three senior peers Antonchik didn’t start attending Garden City schools until her eighth-grade year. A resident of Wayne, she switched to GC as part of a schools-of-choice option.
“I joined the (Garden City youth) Gators softball program when I was younger and everything about it felt right,” she said. “I knew right away Garden City was a place I wanted to be. When I transferred to Garden City my eighth-grade year, it was nerve-wracking at first because everything was so new. But everybody I met made me feel comfortable.”
Antonchik will continue her softball career in the fall at Henry Ford Community College.
“I’m going to miss everything about this place,” she said. “Just the atmosphere in the school, knowing I’d get to go to softball practice at the end of the day. The friendships I’ve made with the other seniors and the younger girls on the team are incredibly strong.”
Although talented enough to play somewhere at the next level, Lynn has decided to focus on academics at Saginaw Valley State University in the fall.
“I’ll be studying nursing, so I want to be able to focus on school first,” she said. “Who knows, maybe I’ll try out for the club team or something. I know I’ll definitely keep playing at some level. I love it too much to totally give it up.”
Spoken like a true Garden City Lynn.