by Jim Mancari
At first glance, seeing the name “Texeira” penciled into the cleanup spot in the St. Saviour H.S., Park Slope, varsity softball lineup might spark some confusion.
“Wait a second, what is the New York Yankees’ first baseman doing playing high school softball?” you may wonder.
But actually, the St. Saviour Pandas have their own version of Mark Teixeira: senior Elizabeth Texeira.
If you notice, the last names are spelled just a bit differently, but that hasn’t stopped St. Saviour’s opponents from questioning Elizabeth about her name.
She sometimes jokes that she is a distant cousin of Mark, and by the way she plays on the softball diamond, that wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Known by her teammates as “Tizzy,” Texeira has been a fixture on the St. Saviour varsity softball team since her freshman year. She’s a third baseman by trade, but she’s also filled in admirably at first base, pitcher and catcher and may even see some time at shortstop this upcoming season. She also serves as one of the team’s co-captains.
Like the Yankees’ first baseman – a five-time Gold Glove defender and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner – Tizzy is the rare combination of a player who excels as both an offensive power threat and a capable defender.
She grew up attending the parish and elementary school at St. Anselm’s, Bay Ridge, and played soccer, basketball and baseball for the Brooklyn Children’s Basketball and Baseball Association (BCBA).
In addition to softball at St. Saviour, Texeira also played volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter. She was a 2012 Tablet softball all-star and was recently named to The Tablet’s 2013 girls’ basketball all-star team. It’s interesting that Mark Teixeira is also a two-time all-star.
As a junior last season, she was the team leader in batting average at .526 and RBIs with 25. Her on-base percentage was over .600, meaning she was on base more than three times out of every five plate appearances. Those are certainly impressive statistics, but Tizzy is eager to keep improving this spring.
“I hope to do even better for my last year,” Texeira said. “I want to make it the best year and hopefully win the championship and make it memorable.”
Mark Teixeira won the 2009 World Series as a member of the Yankees, and similarly, Elizabeth Texeira has a championship pedigree. She was an integral part of the 2011 St. Saviour team that captured the Brooklyn/Queens ‘B’ Division diocesan championship.
St. Saviour head softball coach Bob Atanasio is already dreading Tizzy’s impending graduation, since he’ll have to find multiple sources of offensive and defensive production to replace his star player – and also his goddaughter.
“She’s (Texeira) a very versatile player,” Atanasio said. “Basically whatever I ask her to do, she’ll do it. She’s just that type of kid and that type of player trying to help the team.”
Tizzy’s on-field talent has been just one facet of her overall impact on the Pandas’ program. Her leadership and sportsmanship have set the tone for the younger members of the team, and she was even voted as the school’s student body president. For basketball, she recently was the well-deserving recipient of the Theresa Whitty Sportsmanship Award.
“I always try to tell people that they did a good job and to keep their head up,” said Texeira, who was honored to win the award. “It’s just a game. I think that in playing a sport, one of the priorities is to win, but the main priority is to have fun and to enjoy your time on the field or court.”
In keeping with the similarities to the Yankees’ slugger, Tizzy is a devout Yankees’ fan who started following the team in the mid-to-late 1990s when it consistently won World Series titles. She said Mark is one of her favorite players, but she wears No. 2 in honor of her other favorite player, Derek Jeter.
A team is like a family, and Tizzy said she’s enjoyed the tightly-knit community at St. Saviour. She said that everyone genuinely cares about each other, and she hopes the school recognizes the time and dedication she’s devoted to all three sports during her high school tenure.
“I just want to leave this school knowing that I left my mark,” she said. “I want people to remember me here not just for softball but for academics as well.”
While Tizzy may be focused on putting her final exclamation point on her softball career with the Pandas, it’s funny that Mark Teixeira is dealing with a wrist injury forcing him to miss at least a few more weeks.
Maybe the Yankees could use St. Saviour’s “Texeira” to fill the infield void.
Contact Jim Mancari via e-mail at email@example.com.