All-Area Softball Player of the Year: Waterford's Megan Spellman
It took just an instant, the pitch connecting with Megan Spellman's right wrist, and before her senior season even started she was on her way to Pequot Health Center for an X-ray.
"Instant pain," said Spellman, who was slated to take over for Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year Kelli Connors as the starting pitcher for the Waterford High School softball team.
"I didn't think it would take two or three weeks to come back, but of course it did. It was a chipped bone. Three weeks I couldn't use my arm. They gave me a brace thing."
Waterford coach Liz Sutman said she would see Spellman during that time and her eyes would be puffy from crying.
"I think that's why when we won the state championship, she couldn't stop crying," Sutman said of Spellman. "They were the same tears she had shed so many times, but this time they were completely happy. ... It made it that much better when she won a state championship her senior year."
Spellman came back from her injury, from a long line of them, in fact, including two knee surgeries that cut short her basketball career.
Then, allowing just two baserunners past the fifth inning of the Class M state championship game, Spellman pitched the 12th-seeded Lancers to their fourth title in program history, a 6-3 victory over No. 2 Granby.
Spellman, who also threw a six-hitter with 13 strikeouts against top-rated Suffield in the semifinals, was chosen as The Day's 2013 All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
"She has literally had the worst luck; she's been hurt for soccer and basketball, as well. She's had to sit out a lot of things she loves," said Connors, one person who was ecstatic to witness Spellman's storybook ending.
"It was her year to shine and she had to overcome one more injury, but no one understands that girl's mindset. She's so determined. When she came back it was like, 'I'm not going to let anything else stop me.' That's why I'm so happy for her. The great person finally gets her day to shine."
Waterford finished 22-6, sharing the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title with East Lyme.
Spellman was 15-4 with a 1.24 earned run average and 126 strikeouts in 130.3 innings. She pitched a no-hitter during the regular season against Stonington, which went on to be the top seed in the ECC tournament. Opponents hit .177 against her. Spellman's four losses were all by a run.
"It seemed surreal. I couldn't believe it happened," Spellman said of winning the state title. "Waterford is known for softball all-stars. With Kelli, I looked up to her. She was an amazing pitcher; I had big shoes to fill.
"But I was so ready to go (before the injury). I wanted to make sure, this is my senior year and I wanted to leave my mark."
Spellman comes by her all-sports-all-the-time approach honestly.
Her dad, Dan, was the East Lyme High boys' basketball coach for 15 seasons and now serves as an assistant coach for the Waterford girls' basketball team. Her mom, Denise, was the coach of the Waterford South Little League team which reached the World Series in Portland, Ore., in 2007. Spellman and Connors were both members of that team, which finished fourth.
Waterford started the state tournament with a 10-9 victory over Rocky Hill. During that game, Sutman pulled Spellman with sizeable lead in hopes of resting her for a possible second-round game the next day, but had to summon her back to the field.
"There's Megan who's resting and I say, 'You have to go back in,'" Sutman said. "... After she won the championship I hugged her and I said, 'You carried us here. We jumped on your back and you carried us here.' She's literally one of the nicest girls. It made it even more crushing when she got hurt because she's always doing all the right things.
"Now she made her mark."
Spellman, a co-captain for Waterford, will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall and major in sport studies in the Department of Kinesiology, putting competition aside for now.
She will like carry her two state titles with her, though - she was a pinch runner as a freshman when Waterford won the 2010 championship.
"Once we won the quarterfinal, we knew we could do it, win the entire tournament," Spellman said of her senior season. "At the beginning, people weren't even looking at us as anything good. ... Stuff was just going our way. We hit our peak."
The Day's 2013 All-Area Softball Team
Player of the Year - Megan Spellman (Waterford)
Infield - Katelyn Haff (Waterford)
Infield - Madison Horner (East Lyme)
Infield - Lindsey Reinhart (Ledyard)
Infield - Caroline Taber (Fitch)
Outfield - Claire Hurley (Waterford)
Outfield - Mallory Kane (Stonington)
Outfield - Morgan Lloyd (East Lyme)
Pitcher - Erica Hill (East Lyme)
Pitcher - Theresa Kane (Stonington)
Catcher - Emily DeVito (NFA)
Designated player - Elaina Sullivan (Waterford)
Utility - Mena Buscetto (St. Bernard)
Utility - Alana Luzzio (Fitch)
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