CRONKITE SPORTS

Stankiewicz’s love of baseball became a family affair

May 30, 2018, 5:40 PM | Updated: 5:41 pm
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TEMPE, Ariz. — Drew, Marisa, Dane and Mia know all about the spirit of competition. Their father Andy recalls pickup basketball games, Wiffle ball tournaments in the backyard and intense bowling competitions.

“Sometimes it got a little rough and physical, but it was always about competing hard,” Andy Stankiewicz said. “Then jump in the pool and laugh. It’s always been a big part of their lives.”

It’s the Stankie way.

And with ASU softball advancing to the College World Series for the first time since 2013, Marisa is reflecting on what the Stankiewicz name means for her softball career.

“I kind of felt like I had a big name. I had a big point to prove,.” Marisa said. “I played for ASU on the front but also Stankiewicz on the back.”

“Baseball not only shaped the way our family works. It’s our lifestyle,” Drew Stankiewicz said.

Drew’s father Andy Stankiewicz is in his seventh season as head coach of Grand Canyon University baseball, following seven years in Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Montreal Expos and Arizona Diamondbacks. Following his MLB retirement in 1998, he was a scout for the New York Yankees and an assistant coach with Arizona State.

The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Drew in 2014. He plays for their minor league affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils. Andy’s oldest daughter, Marisa, is in her senior year of ASU softball. His son Dane plays baseball at GCU, and his youngest daughter, Mia, plays softball at Gilbert High School.

“Growing up, our family just was baseball,” Drew said. “Our only goal was just to follow in (our dad’s) footsteps.”

In her fourth and final year with the Sun Devils, Marisa transitioned from an off-the-bench pinch runner to an everyday player. She is one of three players to start in all 59 games in the 2018 season.

“You look at what Marisa has done at ASU. Here’s a girl that went on as a walk-on just because she wanted a shot. She had limited playing time year two and three. She showed them the perseverance of ‘hey, I’m here. I’m committed to ASU softball,’ ” Andy said. “As a parent, how could you not be proud?”

She boasts a career-high 35 runs, 31 hits and 10 home runs. Though coach Trisha Ford said Marisa’s improvement in her final two seasons is unusual for most softball players, it is unsurprising given her family history.

“She’s a coach’s kid,” Ford said. “That kid has so much game sense. It’s crazy just the knowledge she has. She’s grown up around the game.”

Growing up a year and a half apart, Marisa and Drew played together on tee ball and coach pitch teams. The two infielders said their dad imparted wisdom both on and off the field.

“Coming into ASU, I wasn’t ready, and things just didn’t really go my way,” Marisa said. “(My dad) just told me to be the best teammate you could be. That goes to show, he doesn’t care what happens on the field. He cares about the relationships that I make with the girls on the rest of the team.”

“If you’re a good teammate on the field and a good teammate off the field, it sets the person you are in life,” Drew said.

Andy said he encouraged his children to play the right way: world hard, hustle, practice well. As his children get older, he sees how they have followed his advice.

“As a dad, maybe they’re listening,” he joked.

Andy Stankiewicz also transferred his competitive spirit to his children. Though Drew claims he won many intense family bowling competitions, his father was the most competitive.

“He’s the one that gets in everyone’s face,” he said.

“I would get the ball rolling,” Andy said. “I’ve got to show my place in the pecking order. I can’t do it like I used to.”

Marisa said when she is playing through a slump, she looks through old articles written about her dad to push through her own struggles.

“Learning from his example and seeing how he can scrap out seven years in the Bigs, I can scrap out one senior season and get a hit,” she said, “It’s definitely a humbling experience being a part of the family that I am.”

Drew and Marisa said the game of baseball shaped their lives. Their dad taught them that the game of baseball parallels many trials in life.

“Baseball and softball is a game of failure,” Drew said. “Baseball is not easy, and life is not easy.”

The Sun Devils travel to Oklahoma City to take on No. 1 Oregon in the double-elimination nationals Thursday. Andy and his wife Mariana will travel with their youngest daughter, Mia, to watch Marisa play in her first and only College World Series.

Marisa will have to embrace the Stankiewicz way of playing the game, something Marisa and her brother call “the Stankie way”

“We leave everything out there on the field. We have a lot of scrap to our game. I think that’s just the Stankie way of playing,” she said.

“If your uniform isn’t dirty, you’re not playing it the right way,” Drew said. “That’s not the Stankiewicz way.

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Stankiewicz’s love of baseball became a family affair