Burawski overcame freshman injury to become Panther softball ace

Polytech ace left-hander Kaite Burawski. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

WOODSIDE — Before it even started, Kaite Burawski’s softball career at Polytech High hit a bump in the road.

Prior to varsity tryouts in the spring of 2016, the incoming freshman suffered an injury to her throwing shoulder.

The left-handed pitcher battled through the injury to make the team anyway.

“My shoulder was hurting (during tryouts), but I tried to hide it because I wanted to make varsity,” explained the recently-graduated Burawski.

Though she made the team, she missed all but one game during that freshman campaign.

After a six-month rehab process, she was able to begin her sophomore season as the Panthers’ full-time starting pitcher the following spring. She started nearly every game in the pitcher’s circle since then.

“I missed it,” Burawski said of her six-month absence from the field. “In therapy when I started pitching and working on my form, I realized how good it felt to pitch again.”

While sidelined, Burawski says she learned a lot just by watching then-Polytech senior Taylor Pechin in the pitcher’s circle.
Pechin moved on to play college ball, leaving the pitching duties to Burawski in 2017.

Katie Porter says she’s grown to love playing goalie. She plans to keep playing both field hockey and lacrosse at Wesley. Submitted photo

“Sophomore year when I got to actually pitch, I got to see and experience how good the hitters were and everything,” she said. “So, over the summer I kept working out, got my strength up and I started throwing faster.

“Then, my junior year, we got Whitney [DeMora] as our pitch caller and she was constantly mixing it up. I think that’s what made me really successful.”

Polytech won just five games during her sophomore season, but Burawski led her Panthers to consecutive DIAA state tournament appearances in 2018 and ’19 after registering 11-7 records each of those seasons.

While her senior campaign ended with a 5-1 tourney loss to eventual state champion Smyrna High in the first round, Burawski allowed just six hits and struck out eight and recorded one of the Panthers’ five hits in the season-ending defeat.

Though she walked across the stage in her cap and gown June 7, Burawski will have the chance to represent the Panthers in the pitcher’s circle one last time in tonight’s annual Blue-Gold All-Star game at Dover Little League. First pitch is set for 6:45.

“I think it’ll be fun,” she said of the opportunity to play for the Gold squad. “It’ll be challenging, because we haven’t practiced together, but I think we’re at that level where we can just be on a team and play with each other.”

Burawski, who is set to play her summer travel ball for Delaware Express before heading off to play Division II softball at University of Bridgeport next year, first picked up the sport at the age of eight after her mother – also a pitcher – introduced her to it.

She started pitching about a year later.

“I really liked just being out there and playing, then I started pitching and I liked that feeling when you get a strikeout,” she said. “I just like that feeling, the rush, so I was always chasing it.”

Between the Dental Hygiene program, the coaching staff and the success of the program, Burawski felt University of Bridgeport in Connecticut was the perfect fit for her.

“They have Dental Hygiene, which is the major I wanted, and then their softball team is really good, and their coach is really nice,” Burawski explained.

“The pitching coach, she told me that she’s not going to change me – because a lot of schools do that when you get there. She said she was just going to let me pitch how I like to pitch, and just give me little pointers here and there.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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