Sports

A power pitcher: Senior Urbaniak pounding the ball for H-F despite back issues

Becky Urbaniak has eye-popping power numbers this season, but the Homewood-Flossmoor senior insists she’s a pitcher first. 

Senior Becky Urbaniak has 10 home runs for Homewood-Flossmoor softball.
(David P. Funk/H-F Chronicle)

She’ll pitch in college. It’s what she’s always been and how she’s always seen herself. The fact that she’s producing runs this year, instead of preventing them, doesn’t change that.

“Ever since I got my (scholarship) offer, I made sure that pitching was the priority,” Urbaniak said. “I definitely see myself as a pitcher.” 

Back issues forced Urbaniak to miss what she estimates is about 60% of the time she could’ve spent in the circle this season. As of May 14, she’s pitched 61 innings. Most of her time has been at first base.

“It’s been tough, to be honest,” she said. “I just keep my head up. Even though I can be out there where I’m mainly at, I want to make sure my energy is radiating off everybody else. I want to make sure I’m always up, making sure my pitcher in the circle is getting the same energy I want. Everybody deserves the same energy.” 

Urbaniak found other ways to contribute. She has 10 home runs – though one was an inside-the-parker that she “doesn’t count”– to go with 37 RBI and seven doubles. All of those numbers lead the team.

She’s hitting .420 with 25 runs, too. 

Against Lincoln-Way East, H-F laid down two bunts to set things up for Urbaniak. She came through with a double. The Vikings scored two runs in that inning and went on to win 8-3. Urbaniak was 3-3 with four RBIs, a walk and two runs. 

“Double-digit home runs from a pitcher is something truly special,” coach Corinne Zimmerman said. “She definitely had the pop last year, but I would not have put money on 10 home runs this year. It’s just clutch.” 

Even more than her production, Urbniak’s personality is what made her the coaches’ choice for team captain. The Vikings have separate captains chosen by coaches and players. 

She makes sure everybody has a good time. She talks to, laughs with and even dances with virtually every player in the H-F dugout. That’s part of being a leader, she said. 

“It’s just my personality. I try to get along with everybody,” she said. “I will make sure that it’s known that I love getting along with everybody. I love this team. I wouldn’t change anything about it. That’s just me, captain or not.” 

Zimmerman lauded Urbaniak’s dedication, too. She was the one making sure everyone was at offseason training and open gyms. She’s the one keeping everybody on track once they get there. 

“As a coach, you have a lot of teams and a lot of players. There’s just some you know are gonna come back. I know that Becky is going to be ‘Coach Urbaniak’ in a couple years and even hopefully take over for me,” Zimmerman said. “She deserves to be around kids and inspire young adults.” 

That’s a real possibility, Urbaniak said. She’ll pitch for Roosevelt University next season and major in education. She hopes to be a chemistry teacher someday and help kids understand the subject is as cool as she thinks it is.

“Anything in science, I was always fascinated by it,” she said. “If (coaching) is something I’m able to do, I would love it. I want to come back on the field and show my energy again.” 

The Vikings are still benefiting from that energy. They’re scoring almost eight runs per game, as a team. It’s not just Urbaniak doing the damage, though. 

Senior Toni Purchas is hitting .474 with 21 RBI. Junior Skylar Skinner is batting .444 with 33 runs and 16 steals. Senior Amani Johnson is hitting .469 with a 1.213 OPS. 

“Someone’s got to be the captain of the day. Someone’s the Viking of the game. It can’t always be on Becky or always be on Amani or Toni or any of those players,” Zimmerman said. “We saw those sparks out of (Urbaniak) last year and now we see those sparks out of other girls. Her job was to mentor younger girls and that’s what she’s done.” 

The class of 2024 isn’t done, yet, though. H-F hosts the regional tournament, which it will open May 21 with Shepard. The Vikings beat the Astros 18-8 in the season opener but beating any team twice is difficult. 

The goal, Zimmerman said, is to get to a regional championship. The likely opponent would be top-seeded Lincoln-Way Central, which beat the Vikings 12-0 on April 8.

“I would just love to finish with a strong game. I want to win against Shepard. I want to slaughter them,” Urbaniak said. “If it’s Central (next), I just want to play our hearts out against them. Win, lose, whatever. It would be the best thing ever.” 

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