Cougars Stay Perfect by Shutting Out Coginchaug
Senior captain Ella McGlynn and the H-K softball team are living right with a record of 10-0 through the first three weeks of the 2021 spring season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source)
Sophomore Kaleigh Bodak earned the win on the mound when the H-K softball squad claimed a 4-0 victory at Coginchaug on April 26. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source)
The Haddam-Killingworth softball team couldn’t have asked for anything more from the first half of the 2021 season. The Cougars have an unblemished record of 10-0 and have won most of those games in blowout fashion, outscoring their opponents by a wide margin of 89-20 thus far.
Last week, H-K continued its strong start by earning a 4-0 victory at Coginchaug on April 26. The Cougars went on to get a forfeit win versus Westbrook for a road game that had been slated to be played on April 28.
Head Coach Jeff Talbott said that one of the biggest keys to H-K’s success is the performance of its pitching staff that features sophomore Kaleigh Bodak and freshmen Bella Richwine and Brooke Hickman. H-K’s hurlers have a combined record of 9-0 with an 0.88 ERA and are averaging 11 strikeouts per game as a staff.
“The biggest impact comes from three new pitchers. Kaleigh Bodak, Bella Richwine, and Brooke Hickman have been sensational,” said Talbott. “Most recently, in the last four games, they have given up only one run. You’re going to win a lot of games with those stats.”
The Cougars’ two captains are senior first baseman Ella McGlynn and junior shortstop Katherine McQueeney. McGlynn, the lone senior on the team, is hitting .500 with seven runs scored and five RBI. McQueeney has five runs scored and three RBI on the season.
In addition to her 4-0 record on the mound, Richwine, who also plays third base, is sporting a .571 batting average for H-K this spring. Junior catcher Madison LaTouche is batting .488, and freshman corner infielder Ivy McNiel is hitting a .593 clip for Coach Talbott’s squad.
“The entire starting nine are making an impact on the team,” Talbott said. “We have 20 players on our roster, and 15 are new to the program. I can say these players, especially the new 15 freshmen and sophomores, were well-coached in younger leagues. They come with a winning attitude and are really fun to coach.”
While the Cougars are off to an exceptional start, they still had to deal with some hurdles at the beginning of the season, including the absence of six players who were quarantined due to contact tracing. Coach Talbott feels fortunate that H-K has been able to get in so many games through the first three weeks of the campaign.
“COVID was a difficult adjustment at first. Six players were quarantined early in the season for contact with someone who tested positive,” said Talbott. “Recently, we have been OK, with stern warnings to wear masks and social distancing working. We are up to date with our schedule, which many teams cannot say. It has been an advantage to not have to miss practices or games. We are keeping our fingers crossed going into May.”
Prior to last week’s action, H-K had earned two wins versus Valley Regional to go with victories against Cromwell, North Branford, Morgan, East Hampton-Portland, Old Lyme, and Hale-Ray. When they faced Coginchaug for a road game on April 26, the Cougars were bolstered by an excellent pitching performance from Bodak and Richwine, who combined for eight strikeouts and just one hit allowed on the day. Bodak got the win to improve to 5-0 after pitching the first 3.1 innings of the game. Richwine earned the save by tossing 3.2 innings of relief to close it out.
H-K took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when McNiel doubled and scored on a base hit by freshman Keira Czarkowski. In the sixth inning, McNiel singled and scored on a hit from McGlynn. The Cougars added more two runs in the seventh on a fielder’s choice by McQueeney and an RBI single from Richwine.
Czarkowski went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI for H-K. McGlynn went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while McNiel was also 2-for-3 to go with two runs scored. Richwine went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and McQueeney scored a run and had an RBI to help H-K stay undefeated. H-K was slated to play Westbrook two days later, but the Knights had to forfeit the game due to a lack of available players.
Coach Talbott feels ecstatic with how everything has unfolded for his club this far this year. Talbott wants to see the Cougars keep their foot on the gas as they play through the second half of their season.
“Now that we are halfway through our schedule, the expectations remain the same,” Coach Talbott said. “We want to finish the season strong and get better every game. We also want to do well in the league playoffs and ultimately come away with a Class M state title.”
H-K’s junior class also features second baseman Megan Butler and outfielder Audrey Snyder.
The Cougars’ sophomore corps additionally includes shortstop Kelsie Piela, infielder Paige Corcoran, and outfielders Ellie Frith and Amanda Belanger.
The other freshmen on the squad are outfielders Hailey Braun and Ava Harriman, infielders Annabelle Zajac and Bella LaTorre, and catchers Cheyenne LaTouche and Nikki Hines.
With so many young players on the roster, Coach Talbott feels that H-K is building a great framework for success for years to come.
“It is a real pleasure coaching this group and rewarding to know that many will be around for another three years,” said Talbott.