BRISTOL - James Judenis and Nolan Cloutier never really talked much during their high school days.
The two were teammates on the Sheehan High School baseball team, where Cloutier helped lead the program to a 2015 Class M state championship, and Judenis was a lesser-used pitcher during their junior seasons.
Judenis then became the club’s No. 1 arm as a senior during its run to the state semifinals, but the two still didn’t communicate much, despite the fact that they lived right down the street from each other in Wallingford.
But years later, that changed when the two college players - Judenis a pitcher for the University of Hartford; Cloutier an outfielder for SCSU - each decided to sign with the Bristol Blues for the summer of 2019, and that brought some added relaxation coming into a new organization and a new environment.
“We were always cool in high school,” Judenis said. “We didn’t talk a lot over the past couple years, but coming back was cool because we live close to each other too, so being able to catch up was cool. I think we’re both a lot better than we were in high school so seeing how each of us has grown has been really cool to see.”
Cloutier added: “I always knew who he was and always knew he was a good player [in high school], and when I found out I was gonna be playing with him this summer, it was kind of like an additional comfort thing. Even though I had played in the league last year, it was like, ‘Hey, there’s just another guy I played with.’”
Cloutier played in the FCBL last season for the Pittsfield Suns, so he already knew a bit of the lay of the land before coming to Muzzy Field. That was an added bonus for Judenis, who had not yet played in the league, but was able to get an idea of what it would be like from Cloutier.
The other additional positive for both players is the familiarity of knowing the other’s talent level, which is something each has respected about the other and should serve as a motivational boost throughout the rest of the summer.
“It makes me feel comfortable,” Cloutier said. “I know I’ve got someone that’s been through everything with me before, and I know he knows how to win. I know he’s gonna go out there and compete and give it his best effort and I know for myself, I better perform because he’s seen me at my best.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or