Audrey Gavin leads Old Lyme's softball resurgence
Old Lyme — Audrey Gavin isn't a pitcher.
She was recruited to the Division III Roger Williams University softball team as a utility player after attending a one-day camp there, legging out a hit and then stealing second base. Gavin is a first baseman for her travel team during the summer. She is batting over .600 during her senior season for Old Lyme High School and is 33-for-33 in stolen base attempts (52-for-52 over the last two seasons).
At Old Lyme, however, she has been the Wildcats' starting pitcher since her freshman season.
"I learned how to pitch since I was, like, 10 in the summer," Gavin said. "I don't mind pitching for the school, but I'm not at the level I should be at to be pitching in the summer.
"I just love the sport. I love that the teams are always so close. I love game days. I'm a really competitive person. I love to win."
Gavin pitched a four-hitter, quick enough to beat the impending weather Tuesday afternoon, as Old Lyme topped Old Saybrook 10-1. Gavin struck out 11, walked two and in the fifth inning she came to the plate left-handed and slapped a base hit past second in the midst of a decisive four-run inning.
She is 12-5 this season. Old Lyme is 12-5. Coming off back-to-back seasons in which the Wildcats amassed six wins in total, Gavin has the team headed to the Shoreline Conference and Class S state tournaments. Last Friday, Old Lyme, which starts four freshmen, scored a game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat perennial Class L power Fitch 5-4.
"She's gotten a lot better this year," said Old Lyme coach Tim Gavin, Audrey's dad. "She's gotten a lot stronger. She's really athletic, so she's a really good fielder when she pitches. She likes to pitch. She likes the arena. That helps her.
"She needs to pitch for us. She gives that up of herself to make us a better team. That's a credit to her. She's a competitor."
Gavin's resilience has been part of her competitive nature. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a basketball game her sophomore season and was forced to sit out the spring season, as well.
This year, Gavin took a line drive off her left shin on a Friday and wound up in the emergency room.
"I don't want to not play," Gavin said of that game. "I was nervous I had potentially broken something. Sophomore year I sat on the bench and had to watch."
Nothing was broken. Gavin started for the Wildcats on Monday.
This season has been an enjoyable one for Old Lyme.
Gavin was explaining Tuesday that former Old Lyme High pitcher Sammy Yuknat, who continued her career at the Coast Guard Academy, was among her first pitching coaches when she began.
Just then, Old Lyme head girls' basketball coach and assistant softball coach Don Bugbee, who has Gavin for both seasons, chimed in.
"She should have given you a couple more lessons," Bugbee said with a laugh, drawing a good-natured groan from the senior pitcher.
"I do. I have a lot of fun. I do," Gavin said, smiling. "The past two years have been just great people. But the girls this year, the four freshmen, they play year-round. They have that passion. When they play they want to win. We haven't had that attitude."
Old Saybrook took a 1-0 lead Tuesday in the fourth on a double by Maeve Foley and an RBI single by Sarah Howley. Old Lyme tied it in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Alison Ward. The Wildcats then made it 5-1 with four in the fifth, getting a clutch two-out, three-run double by Sarah Hayward.
Sadie Rubitski had three hits for Old Lyme and Hayward had four RBI.
"We've got some kids that are getting key hits. We haven't had that in the past," Tim Gavin said. "It's refreshing ... for the girls that have been in the program a long time and also for the players that came before; even though we were losing, they paved some of the road. It's been nice."
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