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Riley Norwood batted .480 for the Cheshire Academy softball team this spring, while helping the Cats capture a second straight league title. Riley was recently named a captain for next season. (Photo courtesy of Riley Norwood )
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East Haven resident Riley Norwood is making quite a name for herself on the Connecticut softball circuit as a member of the team at Cheshire Academy. Riley had a breakout sophomore season this spring and is primed to take the reins as a captain next year.
Riley has helped Cheshire Academy win the Western New England Prep School Girls Softball Association Class B championship in each of the past two seasons. This spring, she led her squad to the tune of a .480 batting average to go with 25 hits, 11 RBI, and 19 runs scored. On the heels of her stellar campaign, Riley feels ready to assume a leadership role as a junior.
“My goal is to be a good captain and show good leadership for my team. I want to be behind them, because they’re behind me,” says Riley. “I want to pick them up with my leadership. I want to win two more championships and defend what is ours.”
Cheshire Academy Head Coach Samantha Cieri believes that Riley is ready to step up and lead the Cats as a captain next season. Cieri says that Riley is always willing to do whatever it takes to benefit the program as a whole.
“She is always the player that will come early to everything, whether it be morning workouts, evening lifting, team meetings, or games, and she’ll stay late for extra reps,” Cieri says. “She is just a great overall kid. Our coaching staff felt it was necessary to make her the third captain next year.”
Riley plays third base for Cheshire Academy, but notes that she has the ability to play any position on the field. Riley has patrolled all ends of the diamond since she started playing softball at The Pit, and she knows that makes her more valuable to her team.
“I was always moved around and put here or there. I was told that it was what is best for me for college, and I’m seeing the benefits of that now while I’m looking at colleges. Being able to play different positions is helping me get college coaches more interested in my skills,” says Riley. “It’s really fun for me to be able to know all the aspects of the game. I love watching the game, I love playing the game, I love everything about the game. So, being a utility player, I’m able to play all the positions and enjoy all aspects of the game.”
Riley is accustomed to playing against older competition as a member of the squad at Cheshire Academy, which is a college prep school. Riley often goes up against athletes who have already graduated from high school, but she feels that challenge simply fuels her to perform at a peak level on the field.
“I think playing against post-graduates is a great opportunity,” Riley says. “They’re looking for another year to get better and seeking more recognition from college coaches to play at a higher level. I think their drive makes me want to play better because I’m facing them, so I need to have higher skills.”
Riley put up some robust numbers after getting bumped up to the No. 2 spot in the Cats’ lineup this spring. Riley brings a clear mind to the plate, so she can focus on either getting a big hit or doing whatever Cheshire Academy needs at that particular moment.
“When I step up to the plate, I say three words in my head. I look at the pitcher and say, ‘Get it done.’ That’s my way of getting out of my head and not thinking while I’m at bat,” says Riley. “When I say ‘Get it done,’ that means get a base hit, get the inning going, drive in the run, sacrifice myself to move the runner. Whatever my job is, that’s what I want to get done.”
As she approaches the second half of her career at Cheshire Academy, Riley is starting to think about taking her game to the collegiate level one day. Riley says she has designs of playing softball for a Division I school.
“It’s super exciting and a little scary emailing coaches, but I 100 percent want to play Division I softball,” Riley says. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was little. Everything I do, all the work I do to get better is to help my team, but also to prepare myself to play in college. Everything that has driven me is my want to play in college.”
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