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Haylee Garthwait capped off her career with the North Haven softball squad by earning a spot on the All-SCC Second Team this spring. (Photo courtesy of Haylee Garthwait )
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For as long as she can remember, softball has been a big part of Haylee Garthwait’s life. Haylee started with tee-ball and played in rec leagues until she tried out for the North Haven Middle School team in 6th grade. This spring, Haylee closed the chapter on her career as a North Haven softball player by putting together an All-Conference senior season for a team that had a great campaign.
“I started playing with these girls when I made middle school team, and we all built a really great bond,” Haylee says. “When we finished our last game, the last thing I thought about was that I’ll never play at this level of competition again or play with these girls again. That really hit home for me.”
Growing up, Haylee always had a goal of making the North Haven varsity squad as a freshman. Haylee accomplished that goal by earning the starting slot at third base, a position she continued to hold throughout her time with the Indians.
“It was really intimidating, and I was nervous at first, but the older girls were super welcoming and helped me assimilate to that higher level of play,” says Haylee, who also played four years with the Quinnipiac Tornados. “It was great to play at that level of competition with the older girls.”
Haylee played for coach Sally Maher during her first two seasons at the high school. For the past two years, she played for Head Coach Karen Castagnola, who was assisted by her husband Roy and Vin Cretella.
“Karen always was super supportive and knew how to tell you if you were doing something wrong in best way possible,” Haylee says. “Roy took me under his wing. He saw I was struggling with batting and he pushed me to be a better softball player all-around. Vinny was always pushing me to be better. He’s a great guy who I could look to if I had trouble.”
While Haylee is grateful to all of her coaches, she also thanks her family for their support, including her twin brother Hunter and their mom Cindy. Haylee says her biggest influence when it comes to softball is father Dave, who coached her through rec league and was an assistant with her AAU team for a year.
“My dad bred the love for softball into me since I was a little girl. He’s always been there to teach me how to be better and grow as a softball player, and that’s what made me into the player I was. My brother plays baseball, too, and he pushes me to be better,” says Haylee. “My parents always did a good job making sure somebody was there to support us. My family were big supporters who helped me out a ton.”
Haylee’s hard work on the ballfield paid off for both herself and the Indians. As a junior, Haylee helped North Haven defeat Amity to win the Southern Connecticut Conference Tournament.
“It was the first time in school history that the softball team won an SCC title and that was probably the greatest team achievement that stuck with me,” Haylee says. “We all talk about it all the time that 2018 will be on the banner in our gym and we were all a part of that.”
During her senior season, Haylee and the Indians made it back to the championship game of the SCC Tournament. Although North Haven didn’t win the title this time around, the team still went on a nice run to the semifinals of the Class L State Tournament and finished the year with an overall record of 22-4. North Haven also won the Housatonic Division title, marking the squad’s third-straight divisional championship.
“We had a great season this year,” says Haylee. “Of course, we were disappointed we didn’t get the SCC title, but we did get the division title, and we were really proud because we worked really hard this year.”
On a personal level, Haylee had the best season of her high school career both at the plate and in the field this spring. By virtue of her performance, Haylee was recognized with All-SCC Second Team honors, which she described as a “really proud moment for me.”
While Haylee is going to miss playing softball for North Haven, she has no plans of quitting the game. At the end of the month, Haylee will leave for University of Rhode Island, where she is going to study pharmacy and continue playing softball at the club level.
“I’m very excited about college, but a little nervous,” says Haylee. “I’m going to miss my teammates and playing together. They really are my best friends. Playing for North Haven was a really great experience in a really great program with really great coaches and really great people.”
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