Sports Person of the Week
Hitchcock Leads the Hornets as a Senior
Senior Lily Hitchcock led the Branford softball team from the captain’s chair, behind the plate, and even second base. (Photo courtesy Lily Hitchcock)
Lily Hitchcock grew up playing numerous sports, but softball was the one that resonated with her the most. After dedicating herself to the game, Lily went on to become a difference maker for the Branford softball team as its starting varsity catcher and also a senior captain.
Lily started playing softball in Branford’s recreational league in 5th grade. After bouncing around a few sports, Lily realized how much she liked softball and how it gave her a positive outlet. Lily received a lot of an encouragement from her parents, William and Nicole, along the way.
“When I was a kid, I jumped around from a lot of sports. I played soccer, hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball—a lot of different sports. Softball was the only sport I really gravitated to,” Lily says. “My parents and my family are generally big baseball people. I grew up watching it. I just enjoyed the atmosphere of the game. I was always shy, but with softball, I wanted to be louder. It made me want to come out of my shell.”
Lily played in the Branford rec league through her 8th-grade season and also joined the team at Walsh Intermediate School that year. Lily was mostly a middle infielder during her time in the rec league, but transitioned to catcher as an 8th-grader. While she was initially a little reluctant to play the catcher’s position, Lily felt more and more comfortable behind the plate over time.
“It was something I didn’t want to do. I really didn’t think I was that good at it. But in the world of sports, when you make a commitment, you have to see it through,” says Lily. “I stuck with it, and it became one of my most favorite positions to play. You have to be loud and in charge. It made me grow into a person more that I like.”
Lily joined the Hornets as a freshman and spent the year with the JV team. She found that stepping up to the high school level was difficult and considered not even playing as a sophomore. Despite those thoughts, Lily played her sophomore season and earned her spot as the starting catcher for Branford’s varsity squad. When she started playing varsity, Lily quickly realized just how serious everything was.
“It’s crazy when you get to that level. The way our conference is set up, a lot of girls will be starting for DI or DII schools. It was a level of playing I have never seen before,” Lily says. “I wanted to focus on playing and having fun. I realized the only way you can play well if you’re loose. I learned a lot that year.”
Tori Ramada became Branford’s head coach when Lily was a sophomore in 2019. Ramada says that Lily was willing to do whatever it took to help the team win, including filling in at second base as a senior, and that she always brought strong leadership to the Hornets.
“Lily brought creativity, assertiveness, and determination to the team. She was always willing to play wherever we needed her,” says Ramada. “She started this season at catcher and moved to second halfway through the season. The transition was so natural. She was aggressive, had great knowledge of the game, and really strived for unity on and off the field.”
Heading into the 2021 season, any Branford player who wanted to be a captain had to speak in front of the team. After giving her speech, Lily was worried that she wasn’t going to get the role. However, those worries soon went away as Lily was named a captain alongside fellow seniors Kaitlyn Dugan and Sophia Esposito.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be captain. We did these speeches and, while others were like essays, mine was an actual speech at people. I was worried, because I didn’t do what others did,” says Lily, who will attend Hofstra University. “I’m a person who is interactive, and I genuinely just wanted to help everybody and make sure everybody had fun. I learned so much from playing softball. I just wanted to pass it on.”
Whether it was playing in the rec league for Branford’s varsity team, Lily feels proud to call herself a softball player. From the bumps she took behind the plate to the relationships she made, Lily says that softball allowed her to be the person she wants to be.
“There’s a certain amount of pride that goes along with it. Especially being a catcher, you’re always getting beat up,” Lily says. “There is pride in it.”