THE GRIND: South Forsyth baseball player Brett GraczykShot by Paul Dybas Edited by Paul Dybas
It’s been almost four years on the dot since Brett Graczyk got called up to the varsity baseball team at South Forsyth. He was shorter then, and lighter, and less powerful, with his current gap-to-gap power still just a dream. His first at-bat was a walk-off walk, he remembers.
Four years can make quite a difference, even if it doesn’t feel that long to Graczyk.
He has assumed the leadership role that his brother, Justin, once held. He’s set to play baseball in college, having signed with Young Harris. He’s playing shortstop, his favorite position, on a full-time basis, and he’s helped this year’s War Eagles already surpass their win total from 2014.
“It’s almost surreal to see myself now as a senior,” Graczyk said. “It almost feels like yesterday that I was a freshman, just now getting called up … It’s gone by like a blink of an eye.”
Graczyk has idolized MLB shortstops, first Derek Jeter and now Francisco Lindor of the Ohio native’s beloved Cleveland Indians, but he didn’t get a chance to stick at the position in high school until this year. He was an outfielder as a freshman, a third baseman as a sophomore and a second baseman as a junior with Alex Andronica as his double-play partner up the middle.
Andronica is now playing at Charleston Southern, and Graczyk has slid into that spot and hopes to stay in the middle infield in college. His brother, an outfielder, won’t be able to give him many fielding pointers, but Justin fulfilled the equally important task of helping Brett get to that level in the first place.
“If I didn’t have him there, I don’t know if I would be playing at Young Harris,” Graczyk said.
Justin’s journey to Reinhardt University, where he’s currently a sophomore, included lots of work on his part, of promoting himself and trying to get college coaches’ attention. Brett followed that example, and Young Harris bringing him up for a visit helped seal his decision.
Now he can focus on leading South Forsyth through its first year of competition in the newly-formed Region 5-7A, which has proven to be particularly even in terms of quality. The War Eagles are 5-4 in the region, putting them third, and Graczyk is leading the team with a .422 batting average and .506 on-base percentage.
“Our region this year is a lot harder than it was in years past,” Graczyk said. “I mean, if you look at a schedule, there’s not one cupcake. You’ve got to go out there and play.”
There’s plenty working in the War Eagles’ favor, too. They played a tricky non-region schedule, facing loaded squads like Walton and Lassiter, and have seniors like Grant Pearce, Max Schmal and Graczyk leading their lineup, along with Division I commits like Landon Sims (Mississippi State) and Bradley Prince Jr. (Purdue). The team also takes weight training class together, giving the players even more bonding time and giving Graczyk more time to lead.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors mentoring some of the younger kids, coming in and bringing that leadership on and off the field,” he said.
Graczyk, once the mentee, is now the mentor. That’s what four years can do.