In recent years, quality pitching has been synonymous with King Philip softball.
But the one constant in the last four years, whether it’s been Maggie Quealy or Meghan Rico in the circle, has been behind the plate in Warriors senior catcher Olivia Godin.
“Olivia’s been a rock behind home plate for four years,” King Philip head coach Jim Leonard said of his backstop. “She’s been a stalwart of the team, she cares so much about what’s going on in front of her and she’s on top of every aspect of our defense. She’s like having another coach on the field.”
Perhaps the best game-caller in the state, the UMass-Amherst signee isn’t just a dependable defensive catcher, she can hit. Last season, the ESPN Boston All-Stater hit .299 with three home runs and 18 RBI. After smashing a three-run home run against Hockomock League rival Mansfield this week, Godin’s off to another hot start.
We caught up with the Plainville native earlier this week:
Q: You started as a freshman. How long did it take for you to feel comfortable as a part of the team?
A: “It was a little unsettling the first couple of time out there, Cara [Daly] was calling where to throw the ball, she’d be calling to the infield where to make the plays. I’d say it took about halfway through the season to feel comfortable. The breaking point I’d say was the Coyle-Cassidy night game we were featured on. That’s when I started calling plays and had a pick-off. That was a big turning point for me. I had two home runs in a that game, too, so at that point they were like ‘She can play with us.’”
Q: You’ve had some pretty exceptional pitchers to work with in your time here and they’ve all been successful. What has been different working with each of them?
A: “I think there’s a different presence. Maggie [Quealy] had, it wasn’t a profound confidence on the mound, but she definitively had it. Whereas Meg [Rico] presents herself as confident and the batters really fear her. I don’t think hitters feared Maggie until they saw that first pitch and they were like, ‘Whoa.’ I feel like girls coming up the plate are scared of Meghan. Plus, just the pitches they throw. Meg throws everything and she throws it well. Maggie was more a pure drop-ball pitcher, so that changes your framing and everything.”
Q: One thing I’ve always been interested in is how catchers in general are able to balance their responsibilities between defense and offense. How are you able stay sharp with the bat as well as making sure you’re putting in the work with the pitchers?
A: “During practice, I get to have a step-aside time when the infielders are doing their work, I get to work on my blocking and all of that. I always make sure I take that 20 minutes to work on my blocking, and my framing, and throw long to make sure I keep my arm strong. Hitting is consistent, I try to hit at least three times a week.
Q: Do you work on your catching with anybody in the offseason?
A: “In freshman year, I made David Lotti’s travel team [Rhode Island Thunder] and Bob Rossi is the catching coach, so he’s been my catching coach for the last four years, and he’s taught me everything.”
Q: What made UMass-Amherst your college selection?
A: “It’s the legacy there. Coach [Elaine] Sortino is a legend. She’s been in the game for 33 years, in the Hall of Fame. She has such a strong presence on the field, but she’s the nicest person off of it. She welcomes you with open arms. She loves her team unconditionally and I felt the minute I visited. She made me feel like this is the school I wanted to be at.”
Q: What is the key to the program’s success at King Philip? It seems like there’s a never-ending supply of talent coming through.
A: “The PAL [in Plainville] has always been run by good presidents. There’s just always been a talent pool. It starts from the time we’re in T-ball until we’re in high school. They offer a lot, too, there’s clinics in the winter and throughout the spring. I just played in Plainville until I was in seventh grade and that’s taken me pretty far.”
Q: What keeps this team motivated year after year?
A: “I think it’s the drive to prove that King Philip softball is legitimate and to carry on this legacy and prove that we’re an athletic school. I couldn’t have been more proud signing with all the other athletes at the school this year. It’s the fact that we want to show that King Philip breeds good athletes.