Collegiate careers cut short, on hold

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

The decision by colleges and universities across the country to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected countless athletes nationwide and brought an abrupt end of the season for former Naugatuck High and Woodland athletes.

For some, it stalled a good first impression. Others had a new start put on hold, while still many athletes saw the end of their college careers come much too early.

Former Woodland three-sport star Zach Bedryczuk was well on his way to a promising freshman season on the Southern Connecticut State University baseball team. In six games, Bedryczuk batted .526, scored seven runs and drove in another seven.

Former Woodland softball star Ivy Geloso, a sophomore at Albertus Magnus, was in her first season for the Falcons after playing for Southern Connecticut last year. After batting .220 in 50 at bats last season for Southern, Geloso batted .357, scored four runs and drove in three in seven games at Albertus Magnus.

While some athletes will get the chance to pick up where they left off next season, others had careers cut short.

“We found out about 12 hours before our flight to Florida for the spring training portion of our season,” said Jackie Aronin, a former All-NVL, All-State softball player for Naugatuck who enjoyed a stellar career at Utica College. “The rest of the semester is canceled and the graduation ceremony is canceled. But I will graduate with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, and I’m looking forward to enrolling in medical school.”

The former Greyhound centerfielder earned All-Empire 8 Conference honors in her sophomore and junior seasons. She also played for Team USA after her freshman season and belted a grand slam in her first at bat against Spain.

Aronin leaves the Pioneers just short of making the all-time top ten list in batting and hits. She finished with 89 hits, a .340 average, 43 runs scored and 53 RBI in 88 games. The outstanding fielder finished her junior year with a .978 fielding percentage, making one error all season.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to play softball in college,” Aronin said. “Now I wish I could do it all over again, maybe I wouldn’t complain so much about those 6 a.m. practices. It was an experience of a lifetime, something I will never forget.”

Former Woodland Hawk Cam Caswell certainly left her mark on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute softball team, helping the Engineers reach the Liberty League playoffs three years in a row.

“Obviously, it’s heartbreaking for any athlete when their career ends,” said Caswell, a civil engineer major who is on the ECAC academic honor roll. “But this was like I just got hit by a truck.”

The two-time All-Liberty Conference shortstop was setting up for a very productive senior season. In 12 games, she batted .344, scored 12 runs and drove in nine before her collegiate career came to an end.

Caswell, who helped the Engineers win the 2017 Liberty League title, finished her college career with a .306 batting average, 89 runs scored, 86 RBI and 115 hits, including 23 doubles, five home runs and four triples, in 127 games.

“After three years and knowing I was going into my last season, I worked twice as hard in the offseason to get ready for this,” said Caswell, who added it’s devastating to not be able to finish out her career.

“I’m grateful that the NCAA has granted athletes an extra year of eligibility,” she continued. “However, I believe this is it for me. I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life. I would like to start a full-time job next year hopefully around RPI, so I can stop in and help them whenever I can.”