Two St. Paul senior captains share our Athlete of the Week honors for area high school sports: Brigid Johndrow of coach Gary Hovhanessian’s softball team and Andrew Owsianko of coach Vic Rinaldi’s baseball team.
Johndrow, the daughter of Maired and Paul Johndrow of Bristol, has received the honor on several occasions, in both softball and basketball. She had her typical solid week for her team last week.
“Another great week for Brigid,” Hovanessian said. “In our three games, she was 9-for-12 and scored eight runs. She had two doubles, a triple and eight stolen bases in eight attempts.”
He added, “Brigid’s leadership became quite evident in our state playoffs in Brig’s sophomore year. That year, Brig made All-State as an outfielder.
She also made All-State as a junior, batting .611 with 48 base hits, 49 runs scored and 46 stolen bases in 48 attempts.
“The other players look up to Brig, so it adds a bit of pressure to her as a leader. She craves the pressure. Brig is the one I want up in the bottom of the seventh, down by one run with two runners on and two outs. In a battle, I want Brig alongside me in a foxhole. She’s tenacious.”
All of St. Paul’s captains have been important, Hovhanessian said.
“Our captains have become very vocal this year,” he said. “All three - Alessandra Milardo, Brigid and Brooke Perez - were captains as juniors, but have taken charge of this team this year. They are on a mission and have done what has been asked of them ... to be vocal and let their peers know when they want them to step it up a notch. They have done so.”
The Falcons started the season 5-0 heading into a showdown with fellow undefeated team Seymour on Monday afternoon.
“We started off good, especially because we are young,” Johndrow said. “But we haven’t really played anyone real competitive to see how good we are. Seymour is our biggest matchup, so we’ll see how we stand.”
Last year St. Paul carried a record of 13-7 and reached the second round of state tournament play.
“I think this year if we keep improving, we can go further,” Johndrow said. “We’re still young, but we’ve improved a lot.”
She added that playing sports has done a lot for her.
“It’s taught me responsibility,” Johndrow said. “It’s taught me that if things don’t go the right way, you have to keep on going because you can’t give up. I have also gotten a chance to know what team really is, how to be a teammate and I have made many great friendships from playing sports.”
She leaves advice for the younger athletes.
“Give everything you have all the time, because it goes by so fast,” Johndrow said. “Don’t be too serious all of the time. You have to have fun because that’s why you play.”
Her plans for college next year include studying psychology, while likely playing basketball for the school.
Owsianko, the son of Cheryl and Michael Owsianko, is also a veteran. He and his teammates came into this week with a 3-1 record, partly because of his bat.
“He’s our three hitter, and we’re going to have to rely on him this year and so far he has carried the team for us,” Rinaldi said. “This season, he is following up a great junior year, one where he helped lead us to a state championship. He’s one of our captains and that’s along with Wes Lahey.”
Owsianko is pleased with St. Paul’s start this spring.
“It’s going good so far,” Owsianko said. “We got off to a hot start, 3-0, and then we hit Watertown [Thursday] and our bats cooled off a little bit, but our pitching is where it should be in keeping us in games.”
Owsianko said the team goals haven’t changed.
“It’s to get back to the state championship, maybe win another title,” he said. “It was unbelieveable [last year]. I was at third base and that last strike did it. Connor Crean was our pitcher and we were winning 4-2. Now, we see everyone’s ace and best lineup this year, because there’s a target on our backs and everyone wants to beat us.”
Like Johndrow, Owsianko has benefited from athletics.
“I learned to lead a team,” he said. “It’s a release from stress. When I hit the field everything goes, it’s all baseball. It’s being in a tight-knitted group, a brotherhood and respect for one another.”
Owsianko, who plays third base, previously pitched but surgeries continue to keep him off the mound. He knows what it’s like sitting on the sidelines and doesn’t wish that on anyone.
“Never take it for granted,” Owsianko said. “Injuries, you never know how long you are going to play. It can happen anytime. You never know when it’s your last game, last throw or last at-bat.”
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