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Sports Person of the Week
Dugan Finishes Senior Year with All-SCC Honors
Senior captain center fielder Kaitlyn Dugan garnered All-SCC Second Team accolades for the Branford softball squad this spring. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Dugan)
Kaitlyn Dugan became an instant difference maker for the Branford softball team after earning the starting center’s fielder’s job as a sophomore. Kaitlyn continued to get better on the diamond through the next few years went on to make the All-SCC Second Team as a senior captain this spring.
Kaitlyn began playing softball in Branford’s recreational league when she was 10. Initially, Kaitlyn’s family seemed more interested in the sport than she was. However, after practicing with her father Shane and learning about the game, Kaitlyn started to enjoy softball a whole lot more.
“A lot of my family was very involved with baseball and softball. I was kind of dragged into it. I didn’t like it at first, but I’ve grown to love it,” says Kaitlyn. “I practiced with them. I’d throw with them. My dad would go to the fields with me and practice. They were a big help.”
Following her 6th-grade season, Kaitlyn started playing softball with the CT Hornets—a travel team for which she still plays today. With the game becoming more competitive and fast-paced, Kaitlyn’s love of softball flourished as she improved her skills and dedicated herself to success.
“When I started playing travel, you start seeing better players. It makes you want to become better,” says Kaitlyn. “It’s when I started getting better and where I started to like it more.”
After growing up as an infielder, Kaitlyn shifted to the outfield once she started playing at the high school. Kaitlyn liked the change, because she was moving around much more than she did in the infield.
Kaitlyn competed for Branford’s JV team in her freshman year. She feels that her experience of playing travel softball helped her prepare for the rigors of the high school game.
“I was infield all throughout middle school, but they switched me to outfield in high school. I never really played it, but honestly, I loved it more,” says Kaitlyn. “You’re running a whole lot more. It’s definitely more fun.”
In her sophomore season, Kaitlyn was named the starting center fielder for Branford’s varsity squad. At first, Kaitlyn was nervous about being one of the younger players on the roster, but she felt more and more comfortable playing varsity as the campaign went on.
Just as she was finding her groove, Kaitlyn saw her junior season get canceled due to COVID-19. Although she couldn’t play for the high school, Kaitlyn was able still able to practice and compete in the tournaments with the CT Hornets.
At this time, Kaitlyn was also a member of the Branford girls’ volleyball team. However, once she reached her senior year, Kaitlyn decided to focus all of her athletic energy on softball.
“When I started travel, we played all year-round. Volleyball was a lot, having to juggle all of that,” Kaitlyn says. “I just wanted to practice softball more.”
Kaitlyn returned to her starting role as Branford’s center fielder in her senior year this spring. Kaitlyn says this was her favorite season with the team as everyone bonded and grew as a collective unit. When the season came to a close, Kaitlyn was presented with a nice parting gift for her high school career by getting selected to the All-SCC Second Team.
“That was a goal for me. I was really happy,” says Kaitlyn. “I worked really hard that season. I guess hard work pays off.”
In addition to earning All-SCC honors, Kaitlyn also served as one of Branford’s captains alongside fellow seniors Sophia Esposito and Lily Hitchcock this spring. The team’s captains were selected via a group effort from the Hornets’ players and coaches. Kaitlyn felt honored that they all viewed her as a leader on the team.
Kaitlyn will be attending Southern Connecticut State University to pursue a degree in business. She is also hoping to walk on to the school’s softball team.
As she gets ready to start a new chapter, Kaitlyn says that playing softball has taught her a lot about how to succeed both on the diamond and in life.
“To call myself a softball player is to know the passion that I have for it. Every time I step on the field, I take it seriously and want to better myself,” Kaitlyn says. “I wanted to better myself for me and the team, for everyone to succeed.”