Few would blame Joe Paszek if he misses playing golf as much as he did 15 years ago.

To his credit, he doesn’t.

When Paszek realized he and his wife Amy’s young twin daughters were interested in playing T-ball, the former All-County baseball player immediately reduced the pursuit of pars to a distant priority.

“When they were young, real young, I was playing a lot of golf,” Paszek said. “It was then somebody told me, ‘You better spend as much time with your kids as you can because you’ll wake up one day and they’ll be getting married.

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“For some reason it kind of hit home to me. From that time on, I’ve coached them in T-ball, recreation softball and travel softball.”

Fast-forward to today.

Paszek, who coached his daughters, Olivia and Grace, in high school softball at Franklin for four seasons (2011-14), is in his third spring as an assistant coach for the Franklin College softball program.

The twins are junior starters for the Grizzlies.

Prepared to share a 21st birthday on April 17, Olivia is Franklin College’s No. 1 pitcher, while Grace, the younger sibling by five minutes, plays first base.

The Grizzlies take a 13-7 record into today’s doubleheader at Rose-Hulman.

From the time they suited up for the Red Sox squad in T-ball league until now, anytime you’d see one Paszek, you’d typically see three. Actually, four, since Amy is usually cheering from the bleachers.

Coached by their father from the time they were barely taller than the bat they were swinging through their impressionable teenage years, neither Grace nor Olivia will admit to having her style cramped by playing softball for her old man.

Perhaps the occasional silent treatment on the car ride home from a practice or game, but that’s about it.

As Franklin College’s pitching coach, Joe spends more time working with Olivia than he does Grace. Nonetheless, the latter enjoys his presence, and always has.

“In high school when he first applied to be the coach, I was afraid that people would be like, ‘Oh, this is not cool. Your dad’s always been your coach, and why is he following you everywhere?’ ” Grace said.

“I thought they would think I get special attention, but that’s not the case at all. He pushes me to do better and work harder. It motivates me to be a better player since he’s on the field with me.”

The time Joe spends working with Olivia, a left-hander, on her pitching resulted in a banner sophomore season last spring.

She won a school-record 15 games and went the distance in all but two of her 20 starts to be named to the All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference first team.

This season, Olivia has worked 66 1/3 innings. She has posted a 7-3 record while striking out 64 batters and walking only 11. Grace, who bats fifth in the Grizzlies lineup, is hitting .230 and tied for second on the team in runs batted in with 11.

“I also work with my dad one-on-one at my house,” Olivia said. “I used to take pitching lessons and he used to catch me. I actually really like him coaching me, because he pushes me to be a better pitcher.

“My dad is calm, but very straightforward.”

Best friends for as long as they can remember, the twins are elementary education majors. Both express an interest in coaching softball at the high school level once their playing careers are over at the end of the Grizzlies’ 2018 season.

The search for a qualified assistant wouldn’t last long.

Sister act

Grace Paszek

Class: Junior

Number: 27

Position: 1B/3B

Bats: Right-handed

Major: Elementary Education

Olivia Paszek

Class: Junior

Number: 34

Position: Pitcher

Bats: Left-handed

Major: Elementary Education

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.