Battery Powered: Young Softball Team Energized By Pitcher And Catcher
It is not all that uncommon for a top pitcher and starting catcher to be among the team leaders on and off the field in softball. Such is the case with Newtown High School’s squad.
What is a bit unusual is that Newtown’s hurler and backstop are underclassmen: Pitcher Sydney Adolfson is a sophomore and catcher Bri Pellicone is a freshman.
All of the team members, led by senior captains — third baseman/pitcher Nicole Fisher, outfielder Katie Goyda, and first baseman Sarah Kick — in addition to senior outfielder Gina Lewis, are crucial components for the success of the Nighthawks. But it all starts with the pitcher-catcher battery, and Newtown’s tandem energizes the squad with its play and leadership despite not possessing veteran status.
“Bri Pellicone gets us fired up and ready to go,” Newtown Coach Joanna Closs said of the team’s starting catcher, adding that Pellicone and Adolfson have bright futures with the Nighthawks. “They’re going to be leading us for a while. They’re very passionate, they want to play in college.
“Sydney Adolfson easily came in and established herself as the number one pitcher and has been very dominant,” said Closs, adding that the standout pitcher also contributes with the bat as an integral part of the lineup.
Closs added that Pellicone and Adolfson have great chemistry despite not having played together prior to this season.
In other words, they first teamed up in preseason about a month ago, and have helped the Nighthawks to a 4-3 start, which included a 20-2 triumph over Bethel, a 12-0 shutout of Pomperaug of Southbury, and this past week, a 6-4 win over Immaculate of Danbury followed by a 15-3 victory at Joel Barlow of Redding (see related story).
“There’s a special bond between pitchers and catchers as there has to be trust and confidence in each other. We have been in sync since we met at tryouts and we wouldn’t be having this success if we didn’t click instantly. So many members of the Nighthawks team are new to playing together, and our captains have created great chemistry for the team,” Adolfson said.
“I feel that Bri and I work together really well,” she continued, “and it helps to know that we have a great group of players ready to defend any hits. Bri does a phenomenal job understanding the batters and calling pitches that will lead to strikeouts. Her ability to read and frame the pitch makes my job easier, plus her blocking and throwdowns are quite impressive, too.”
Pellicone agreed wholeheartedly, with similar words of praise for her teammate.
“Our chemistry is probably one of the most important things when it comes to game time,” Pellicone confirmed. “Creating strategy when calling pitches is also very important, and Sydney does a great job hitting her spots consistently and movement of the ball is increasing the number of strikeouts, as well. Aside from Sydney and [me], we have a great group of players offensively and defensively that contribute to the team’s success. As well as our coaches who push us to our team’s potential.”
Pellicone has played softball since she was 7, but participated in T-ball at age 5 and baseball as a 6-year-old. A competitive softball player since she was 9, Pellicone has her eyes on post-high school ball at the University of Central Florida (UCF) already.
“My hope for the future is to go play D-I in Florida. My dream school is UCF, and I feel if I keep working towards that goal, I will be able to achieve it,” she said.
Adolfson has played softball for about six years. “I started in the fall of fourth grade and started pitching in fifth grade. Softball is my passion and I hope that my abilities get me recruited so I can continue playing at the college level,” the pitcher said.
Both players also play travel softball in the offseason in the Connecticut Impact Organization, though not on the same team... yet.
“We both hope to play together outside Nighthawks softball in the future,” Adolfson stated, with Pellicone echoing the sentiment.
Adolfson throws a fastball, two-seam, change up, drop/drop curve, curve, and backdoor curve. “I am currently working on a screwball and hope to throw it near the end of the season,” she added.
The pitcher-catcher combination’s makeup is sort of a microcosm of the team given five of the regulars are sophomores and freshmen who take the game very seriously; in addition to Adolfson and Pellicone, the other young players are sophomore outfielder Ashley Hubner, sophomore middle infielder and pitcher Caroline Gardner, and freshman outfielder Rachel Casagrande.
Due to early-season adjustments to the roster, in part because of coronavirus protocol, Pellicone had to step in to play third base, and junior Morgan Melillo slotted into the starting catching role. Melillo also did a fine job behind the plate, Closs said.
“This team is very young but very passionate. Everybody on this team works very hard, loves it, and wants to be here,” said Closs, adding that this desire to do well along with positive attitudes of the team members makes this group easy to coach.
Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.