The “Athlete of the Week” picks for area scholastic sports are senior sprinter Kaynan Conrod of the Bristol Central boys track and field team and freshman pitcher Erin Girard of the Bristol Eastern softball team.
Girard, the daughter of Caroline and John Girard, gets the “AOW” nod for her five-inning perfect game against visiting Avon last week. She struck out each of the 15 batters she faced in the 17-0 victory, bringing her record to 6-1 for the season.
“Erin is a young and talented player,” Eastern coach Scott Redman said. “She works very hard at her craft, playing softball year-round. This year has been a learning experience for her getting used to a new team, catcher and coach. She has faced every challenge head on and stepped up in a big way. She continues to stay humble and lean on her teammates when she needs to.
“Erin has also contributed at the plate. She spends extensive amounts of time perfecting her pitching, but her hitting has also been a key part of our success. In the Avon game she went 3-for-4 with four RBI and is hitting .429 on the season. She finds ways to contribute in every game, whether it’s in the circle shutting down the opponent or getting a key hit with runners in scoring position.
“I am excited to see Erin continue to grow as a softball player. She will continue to work hard, improve and see success on the field.”
Getting back to the perfect game, Girard was surprised.
“I really wasn’t expecting to throw a perfect game,” Girard said. “It was one of my goals for my high school career, but I didn’t think I’d do it so soon. That was my first one and I’ve been pitching since the fourth or fifth grade.”
Eastern was 6-2 coming into this week after a 10-11 record last year with a trip to the first round of Class LL play.
“I think we have a very strong team this year, defensively and offensively,” Girard said. “We are solid in our lineup and everywhere in the field. We have a lot of team goals this season and mine is to keep my walks down.”
Which she has. Her statistics for the year before Monday’s game were: 1.71 ERA in 41 innings on the mound, with 10 earned runs, 30 hits, 68 strikeouts and nine walks. At bat, she had a .455 on-base percentage, .571 slugging percentage and three triples.
When she was asked about what she likes about her sport, she stated that it’s all about taking charge.
“I like feeling in control,” Girard said. “It’s how I can control how the game is set. It gives me something to do. I don’t know what I’d do without softball.”
Her long-term goal at Bristol Eastern is to get the college scouts looking at her. She wants to play at the next level.
The selection of Conrod comes after he finished first in the 100 meters (11.37) and second in the 200 meters in (23.48), while teaming up with David Bowes, Sean Fitzgerald and Luis Medina to capture the 4x100 relay with a clocking of 43.93 at the Greater Bristol Invitational on Friday.
“Kaynan has worked super hard the past few years to become a great sprinter,” Central coach Tamara Stafford-Kirk said. “His range is excellent as he excels in the 100 meter dash to the 400 meters. Having suffered an injury during indoor and having to rehab for the first part of the outdoor season, he is ready to prove that he is one of the best sprinters in the state.
“I would compare Kaynan’s start out of the blocks to that of Elisha Zabel, who graduated back in 2002 and was undoubtedly the strongest starter we’ve had in my near 20 years of coaching at BC. Kaynan has gained my respect and I’m very excited to see what the second half of the season brings for him and his teammates on the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams.”
Conrod is coming off a great indoor season for coach Kevin Taylor, one where he earned All-Press honors. He topped off the winter campaign by getting the best Bristol finish, third, at the Class L meet, running a school-record 36.59 in the 300 meters, just 0.13 seconds behind the winner.
He also teamed with Medina, Fitzgerald and Pat Kjornrattanawanich for a second place in the 4x400 relay, just 4/100ths of a second behind Hall, the state champion. In addition, he ran with Fitzgerald, Nigel West and Medina to grab a fourth place in the 4x200 relay.
Also in preparing for the spring season, his indoor running brought him the 300 meters title at the CCC Championships. He also joined Medina, Fitzgerald and Kjornrattanawanich at the meet in taking the 4x400 relay.
“A co-captain with the Rams, Conrod was “the top sprinter on our team and one of the top sprinters in CCC,” Taylor said.
An all-conference selection in both indoor and outdoor track, he hopes to earn All-State honors before graduating in June. In the meantime, he’s practicing hard coming off his injury.
He’s appreciative of what the sport has done for him.
“It’s shaped me into who I am today,” Conrod said. “I have good coaches who have inspired me to get good grades and get as much as I can out of my sport. I found my main friend group through track.”
As far as college next year, he has been accepted to Southern Connecticut State University, where he will study either English or journalism. He added that he might also run for the school’s track teams.
Contact Bob Montgomery at email@example.com.