Whitman-Hanson Regional High senior Colleen Hughes will play softball with her sister Caitlin next season at Westfield State University.
Colleen Hughes could not pass up the opportunity to play with her sister for one more season.
The Whitman-Hanson Regional High senior will join her sister Caitlin on the diamond as a member of the Westfield State University softball team next year.
“She played a pretty big part in me going there,” Colleen said of the elder Hughes who is one of the Owls catchers. “She plays softball as well so I thought it gave me a great opportunity to play with her. She’s a great role model to look up to and it will be a good transition into college just to start out.”
This will not be the first time the two siblings will share the same field together. They were starters on the W-H softball team in 2015 that stunned defending state champion Bridgewater-Raynham, 4-1, in the opening round of the Division 1 South Sectional tournament. Caitlin, a then-senior captain, caught the entire game and had a key RBI. Colleen, a freshman at the time, roamed left field.
“She was a very good role model to look up to,” Colleen said. “She had a really big impact on the team, so it was awesome to play with her.”
Caitlin concluded her Panthers career as a four-year letter winner, and Colleen is in line to reach that feat as well. The younger Hughes has started every game since her freshman campaign. Last season Colleen led W-H by hitting at a .486 clip with four home runs and 25 runs batted in en route to being tabbed the team MVP and a Patriot League All-Star for the second straight year. In Caitlin’s final season with the Panthers, she hit .446 and knocked in 26 runs.
Fifth-year W-H head coach Jenna Olem sees the similarity with their approach at the plate. “The way they attack the ball in the box is really something special,” Olem said. “Colleen is such a strong, powerful hitter, so that’s nice to have in the lineup. It seems almost every time she gets up, she’s gonna have a big hit for us.”
Not only does Colleen power the Panthers with her bat, but she leads with her arm as well. Last season she took over as their ace and hurled 106 of their 133.2 innings. She collected eight wins in the process to help guide W-H back to the tournament for the first time since that 2015 season. Colleen, despite all the frames tossed, is still fairly new to the position.
“She just took up pitching a few years ago and that’s just a testament to her ability as an athlete, as a competitor, to do whatever she can to help the team,” Olem said.
Colleen added that it was a difficult adjustment to begin with, but rewarding in the end.
“It was hard at first,” Colleen, who boasts a 4.3 GPA and is a member of the Science National Honor Society and National Honor Society, explained. “I did pitching lessons all summer and fall so it was a hard work up to it but it’s definitely worth it.”
This season Colleen will also captain the Panthers — a role she served in for the field hockey team during the fall and the girls’ hockey team in the winter.
“She has always had this tremendous work ethic,” Olem said. “She takes every drill seriously and competes as hard as possible no matter the circumstance. Colleen really showed her ability to lead last year just with her calmness at the plate and her ability to come through with a big hit. Also, regardless of how her pitching outing was going she was always standing, cheering, and letting her teammates know she had their backs. Everyone looks to Colleen as sort of a role model because of her approach to the game and her understanding of the game.”
Colleen’s senior season will get underway Monday, April 9 at 4 p.m. when the Panthers travel to Pembroke.
“My goal this year is to just improve as a player and improve my hitting before I take my next step to college,” Colleen said.