Tonawanda News

June 15, 2013

NT softball legend Frizzell to HS Hall Saturday

By Matt Parrino matt.parrino@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The late ‘80s and early ‘90s were the glory days of North Tonawanda softball. The Lady Lumberjacks were the toast of the town — people came out in droves to watch the girls churn out winning season after winning season.

The players became recognizable around the Lumber City, and their accomplishments were celebrated — none more than the 1988 state championship. The Lady Jacks had many great players, but nobody’s star shined as bright as Kim Frizzell’s.

“We were the thing. You become like famous,” Frizzell said. “It’s still that way because my parents run into people and they know my parents because of who I was. Even my siblings sort of lost their identity and became Kim Frizzell’s sister. They tolerated it and knew it came with the territory. I still even feel that when I go back.”

Frizzell (now Kim Lauber), already a member of the North Tonawanda High School, Western New York and Buffalo State College Halls of Fame, is being inducted into the New York State High School Hall of Fame on Saturday. The NYS Hall of Fame, based in Herkimer, inducted its inaugural class last year.

After one of the most prolific careers in NT history, Frizzell received a full scholarship to play at Bridgeport University. She dominated in the circle for the Lady Jacks for five seasons, compiling a 54-5 record with a 0.13 ERA. She had 600 career strike outs and led NT to five straight Niagara Frontier League championships, five straight Section VI Class A titles and the state title in 1988. 

Former NT coach Tom “T.K.” Murphy is being inducted alongside his former ace, and said she did everything for the Lady Jacks.

“She’s amazing. Absolutely, positively amazing,” he said.

Frizzell played two years at Bridgeport before transferring to Buffalo State. She said the workload was too demeaning and she was burnt out from the 7 a.m. pitching sessions. She was starting to dislike the game. 

A peek at her stats wasn’t a great indicator of her frustrations, however, as she went 42-5 and was an ECAC First Team selection both seasons in Connecticut. Back in Buffalo, she finished out her college career in style with a 28-10 record in two seasons as she led the Bengals to their first appearance in the NCAA regional tournament in 1991. She was named the ECAC Player of the Year her final year.

Frizzell played fast pitch until she was about 29 years old, but decided to step away from the game to focus on her career and raise a family. She has two daughters — Morgan and Hailey — with her husband Sean. She played in the Empire State Games for eight years, winning six gold medals.

Murphy’s assistant coach at NT, Edgy Skovenski, said Frizzell was a winner on and off the field.

“Kim was a left hander that just brought the ball and was a heck of an athlete,” he said. “She was a great kid too, you would have never known it either. Never once did I see her strut her stuff.”

Even with all of her accomplishments and awards, Frizzell said she was humbled when she heard the news of her induction.

“Even my husband said, ‘how do you not think you’d get all these awards.’ And I just never really thought of it that way,” she said. “I never really thought if I can play sports really well I can get all these different awards.”

As life has settled down a bit for Frizzell and her family, she has been able to get back into the game in recent years — this time as a coach. Morgan is 10 years old and plays for the Lancaster/Depew house team. 

Mom is attempting to show Morgan all the tricks of the trade, but, at times, Frizzell said coaching can be difficult, especially with her own daughter.

“She knows about my career and the successes I’ve had, but when it’s your own daughter it’s like you don’t know anything,” Frizzell said. “She’s only 10 but now when I work with her on the pitching she absorbs more. I wish I could do it more, but with working full time it’s difficult.”

Morgan racked up 14 strike outs at a recent tournament game and looks to be following in mom’s footsteps. Hailey is a volleyball player and a tremendous singer, Frizzell said.

Frizzell knows how important it is to be a big part of her kids’ life. She learned that lesson from her parents, Harry and Pat Frizzell.

“I worked hard and my father was always there,” she said. “He had me out in front of the house pitching, even on days I didn’t feel like doing it, he’d have me out there to make sure I got my practice in. Broke a lot windows and garage doors.”

The practice obviously paid off and led to an amazing career full of great memories for Frizzell. But after all is said and done, the state championship is still what she holds most dear.

“That’s the dream year and you think back, not just the championship, but the whole season that year — how it all played out. I think we may have lost one or two games,” she said. “Winning that senior year, gosh. How do you even put that into words. I have to say it’s my single most memorable moment of my entire career.”

Frizzell still makes her way back to NT every week in the summer to play in a slow pitch softball league. She said she likes to go back because when she crosses the bridge into NT it’s like going back in time. 

It’s back to a place that shaped her childhood. A place that holds a lifetime’s worth of magical memories. 

It’s where she fell in love with the game of softball; the game she’s always just loved to play.

“It’s interesting when you get these types of recognitions it’s not something, at least the type of person I am, that you expect,” she said. “You’re just doing something for the absolute love of it and that’s how I played ball. I loved playing and I put everything I had into it. I had a lot of passion for it, I lived for it and along the way you make such great friends and memories. It’s something you’ll have for your lifetime.”

murphy to be inducted • The New York State High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Saturday in Herkimer. Read Saturday's edition for a story on Tom Murphy, former NT softball coach, who is also being inducted.

Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.