Marian Central junior Jenna Golembiewski remembers growing up and watching her brother, A.J., play baseball and wanting to be just like her big bro. A.J., a sophomore pitcher at NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield, will soon get a chance to see his younger sister play at the next level, too.
Jenna Golembiewski, a center fielder for the Hurricanes, announced her commitment to D-I Miami (Ohio) and RedHawks women’s softball coach Clarisa Crowell on Sunday via Twitter.
Wisconsin, Illinois and Southeast Missouri State also offered, with 15 schools reaching out to Golembiewski on Sept. 1, the first day college coaches can contact a player, according to NCAA rules.
“This has been a dream of mine ever since I was little, especially growing up and watching my brother play and being able to watch him play in college,” Golembiewski said. “That was really inspiring to me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“My parents (LeAnn and Gus) got me into softball at a real young age because my brother was doing it. I liked the competitiveness of it, not only physically, but there’s a pretty big mental side, too.”
Miami was 35-16 under Crowell last season and won the Mid-American Conference for the first time in team history. RedHawks coaches were regulars at Golembiewski’s travel softball games the past two years.
She plays for Illinois Chill Gold and will play up on the 18-U team this upcoming season with Richmond-Burton senior Peyton Bannon and Crystal Lake South junior Brooke Kuffel – both Wisconsin commits.
Golembiewski went to a camp and made an official visit to the Oxford, Ohio, school in October. She felt most comfortable with the environment and coaches at Miami.
“The location and size or the conference didn’t really matter to me, as long as it felt like home,” Golembiewski said. “The campus is beautiful, the education there is considered Public Ivy, and the facilities are awesome. Some NFL players donated back, and they have brand-new training facilities.
“The culture is very nice. Coach Crowell does a nice job of preparing the girls for the real world. It’s not just about softball. She understands that at the end of this, we’re not going to be playing softball our whole lives.”
Golembiewski was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team pick last year, batting .412 with 13 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 15 steals, 33 runs scored and a team-high 44 RBIs. She was a big spark for a team with state title aspirations.
Marian was 19-16-1 and lost to Marengo, 3-2, in the Class 3A Wauconda Sectional final.
Golembiewski provided the big hit and made a run-saving play on defense in an upset win over Grayslake North, 5-3, in the sectional semifinals.
The Hurricanes graduated six from last year’s regional champion, the first for the program since 2006.
Golembiewski said she is most looking forward to “competition at a whole new level” at Miami. Over the next two years at Marian, she and her teammates will try to top one of the school’s best seasons in some time.
“It was a fun season, especially our trip to Tennessee (for the Southern Warrior Classic in Murfreesboro),” Golembiewski said. “The sectional final was exciting. We’re going to be a young team. It’s going to be a big learning experience for a lot of the younger girls ... but we’ll be ready.”