Naugy, Woodland grads make mark on collegiate softball

Getting accustomed to playing softball at the collegiate level is no small feat. A few homegrown players are showing how it’s done.

Gillian Fortier, a former Greyhound, wrapped up an impressive four-year career at Albertus Magnus this spring. Fortier finished her career with 225 hits, 151 runs scored, 124 RBI and 20 home runs.

The two-time Greater Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year (2015, 2017) is also the only Falcon to have been named Rookie of the Year and GNAC Player of the Year in the same season (2015).

Former Naugatuck centerfielder Jackie Aronin and former Woodland Hawk Cam Caswell guided their teams to their respective league championship games this season.

In her sophomore year, Aronin helped the Utica Pioneers reach the Empire Eight championship and was named to the All-Conference team and the Empire Eight All-Tournament team.

“I will admit when I first got here I was a little overconfident,” Aronin said. “Having last year under my belt has allowed me to settle in knowing what to expect in the preseason and learning to balance school work and softball.”

In the league semifinals, Aronin went 2-for-3 with five RBI, including a bases-loaded, three-run double in the first inning, in a 13-5 win over Alfred University. She finished the season with 33 hits, 21 RBI, 11 runs scored and was fourth on the team in batting with a .367 average.

“One major goal for next season is to strengthen myself mentally,” Aronin said. “As an upperclassman I will need to take on a bigger role and set an example. I can’t get frustrated, and even after a bad play or an at bat, I need to show that I can dust myself off and keep going.”

Caswell, the shortstop for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, batted .315 on 34 hits, led the team with 30 RBI and was second in runs scored with 24 in her sophomore season. She helped lead RPI to the Liberty League championship game for the second straight year. She was an honorable mention on the All-Liberty League team and made the All-Tournament team.

“There were definitely some advantages going into my second year,” Caswell said. “I don’t think the rigors of balancing a class schedule and an athletic career will ever ease up, but at least I know what to expect and how to manage my time.

“I couldn’t have made the All-Tourney team or honorable mention in the Liberty League without the help of my teammates at my side. Making the league championship game for the second year in a row was definitely a great accomplishment for the team.”

Caswell will take the summer off to have rotator cuff surgery again. Her goal going into next year is to continue to improve her skills.

Things start slowly for former Naugatuck slugger Alexandra Langhans in her freshman year at Dean College, but she quickly got acclimated to her role and excelled as the season went on.

Langhans finished second on the team in batting with a .341 average, second in RBI with 23 and fourth in runs with 19 while blasting a team-leading six home runs for the Bulldogs.

“Going into next season I want to get my average up,” Langhans said. “I need to be able to pick out better pitches and lay off the high ones. I played a lot of travel ball so I was used to playing at a higher level. I thought I would be able to hit a few home runs, but not six, and if I had better pitch selection I would have done better.”