SOUTHINGTON — Southington High School showcased nine athletes at its annual early-decision college signing ceremony on Monday afternoon.
Seven of the nine will be playing Division I athletics. The other two inked Division II pacts.
The signees included swimmers Ella Nadeau and Peter Zalewski, who are both going Division I — Nadeau at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Zalewski at Marist.
Baseball featured a pair of Division I signees in Caden Angelo (UMass-Lowell) and Colin Crowley (Winthrop).
Softball player Madison Furniss signed with D-I Georgia Tech and soccer player Riley Prozzo is also headed to the ACC to play for Boston College.
Three Southington lacrosse players put pen to paper. Auria Mullins signed with Division I LaSalle. Ella Huard (Assumption) and Dominic Calandra (Florida Southern) are future Division II players.
Starting in the pool, Nadeau helped lead the Blue Knights to a 9-1 dual meet record, the CCC West postseason championship and a sixth-place finish in Class LL.
Nadeau finished fourth in two events at Class LL, narrowly missing All-State, in improving her school records in the 200-yard individual medley (2:08.12) and 100 breaststroke (1:05.62). She placed fifth in both events at Sunday’s State open.
“Her impact on the program has been monumental and I don’t know if you can measure it,” Southington swim coach Evan Tuttle said. “She has Southington school records in seven of 12 events and the most podium finishes in program history, with conference titles and conference recognition.
“She has great work ethic and a devotion to the sport. She came into the school wanting to compete in college one day and, today, she was rewarded for that.”
Nadeau, who also swims in the Southington Rays program at the YMCA, will swim the breaststroke and IM at UMBC.
“This day means I worked really hard,” Nadeau said. “I worked really hard to get here. My teammates and coaches always supported me and always believed in me.”
Zalewski trains with the Cheshire Y/Sea Dog Swim Club and has excelled for them in the club season on the national circuit, with impressive times this past summer at the YMCA Long Course National Championships.
At SHS, Zalewski broke school records in the 200 IM record and 500 freestyle last year as a junior. He advanced to the State Open in each event.
“He’s been devoted to his sport since he was young,” Tuttle said. “He wanted to compete at the next level and sometimes I don't think he realized how talented his is. Today is a good recognition of that fact.
“Not many get to go on and swim at the Division I level, and it didn’t just happen for him,” Tuttle added. “He worked for it and he still has another season ahead of him.”
Zalewski holds five SHS records in all — the IM, the 500 free and as part of all three relays.
“The relay records mean a lot to me because my teammates and I got those together,” Zalewski said.
Zalewski will swim the backstroke, freestyle and 200 IM at Marist.
On the baseball diamond, Crowley and Angelo have both been starters for the Blue Knights since their sophomore seasons. Crowley played shortstop/third base and Angelo first base on the team that reached the Class LL state title game in 2022.
Last spring, Crowley was regarded among the top players in Connecticut. He hit .342 with three home runs and 13 RBI. Angelo batted .309 and drove in 11 runs.
“Caden is one of the best athletes we have in our program and will be a three-year starter for our program,” noted coach Stan Switala. “Caden began his sophomore year playing shortstop, then transitioned to first base where his smooth hands, quick feet saved countless runs as he was an intrical part of our team that went to the state finals.”
Angelo plays AAU ball for MVP New England in East Hartford. He’s also a cornerback on the football team. Speed is a big part of his game, both in the batters box and in the field.
“I like bringing my own flair to the game,” Angelo said. “I want to continue to have fun. I started playing this game to have fun and that’s what I want to continue.”
Crowley was named a team captain last year as a junior and responded with an All-State season.
“I think the first time we saw him we knew he would play Division I baseball,” Switala said. “He’s a great baseball player, great teammate and a great person. Can’t ask for anything more.”
Crowley, who plays travel ball for the CT Kings in Plainville, described himself as a hard-working and gritty player who will do anything to win.
“This is something I’ve been waiting for,” Crowley said. “The recruitment process has been a long one, but as soon as I found Winthrop and met the staff there, I knew my decision was going to be easy.”
Winthrop is in Rock Hill, S.C. About nine hours to the south, in Lakeland, Fla., Calandra will be playing Division II lacrosse at Florida Southern.
Southington lacrosse coach Chris Kennedy said Calandra has always been someone who stood out.
“His quickness and athleticism from even a young age has been next level,” Kennedy said. “Now that I have the honor of coaching him directly, it has become obvious there’s so much more to Dom than the quickness and athleticism. Dom is a first-class student, first-class athlete and a world-class young man.”
Calandra said he loves the camaraderie and tradition at Southington High. He’s attacker who has started since he’s been at the school.
“I’m a smaller guy, so I’m more shifty and use my size to my advantage,” Calandra said.
In softball, Furniss officially signed with George Tech at her home earlier this month.
Last spring, in combination with Stella Blanchard, Furniss was part of the overpowering two-armed monster in the pitching circle that carried the Blue Knights to the Class LL finals.
Furniss received 12 Division I scholarship offers. She has a 4.1 grade point average and plans to major in bio-chemistry.
Furniss pitches travel ball for the Connecticut Impact. She throws upwards of 69 miles per hour.
Last spring, Furniss appeared in 15 games, allowing just six earned runs in 45.2 innings for a 0.92 ERA. She struck out 92 of the 172 batters she faced.
“I’m excited to get my time to shine,” Furniss said. “I’ve been waiting to be the senior starting pitcher since I was in seventh grade. I’m glad I will be able to help support my team.”
Southington coach Davina Hernandez began to get emotional talking about Furniss and everything she’s brought to the table.
“Maddie is special to me and to the program,” Hernandez said. “I met her many years ago and she’s always been special to me since the first day I met her.
“Maddie was always dedicated to the sport, and what’s different about Maddie is as pitchers continue to grow, the hitting doesn’t always grow with it. Not only is Maddie one of the biggest pitchers in the state, she’s also one of the best hitters.”
Furniss also hit .425 with two home runs and 17 RBI in the cleanup spot as a designated hitter.
Furniss said she loves being in the game in pressure situations. The reason for the blistering velocity on her pitches?
“I have naturally fast hands,” Furniss said. “My parents and coaches have always told me. It’s not something you can achieve with skill, but I work out and that gives me the power. My arm speed also contributes to my speed as well.”
Furniss said she felt a mixture of excitment and relief after making her college decision offical.
“I have secured a home where I can fulfill my academic and athletic career,” she said. “This is really exciting because this is a pretty big school.”
In soccer, coach Mike Linehan’s girls program has produced another D-I athlete in Prozzo, a four-year starter and a senior captain defender.
Prozzo committed early to Boston College. At the time, she also had an offer on the table from Boston University.
“I’m just really excited,” said Prozzo, who will study mathematics. “I’m so proud of myself and the hard work I put in to get here.”
Prozzo describes herself as athletic and hard working, a competitor who will play until the very end.
Prozzo finished her career with 18 goals and 18 assists. She had five goals and eight assists this fall.
She was an All-CCC and All-State player a year ago and has been nominated by Linehan for All-State, All-Region and All-American this fall. (Those teams will be announced Dec. 1.)
Southington girls lacrosse coach David Sargent helped produce two more college athletes in Huard and Mullins.
Mullins, a two-way midfielder, is off to Division I at LaSalle in Philadelphia.
“I’ve been playing since I was in second grade and this has always been my favorite sport,” Mullins said. “I love coming to practice and being with my team. This is where I feel most at home.”
Mullins said she couldn’t have had a day like Monday without her teammates.
“I wouldn’t be the player I am without them,” Mullins said.
Sargent noted that Mullins and Huard have been on the field for 42 wins over the last three years.
“Auria is the most polished player I’ve seen come through this program,” Sargent said. “She can play any position and will have a tremendous career in college. She’s a great player. She does this so effortlessly that it looks easy, but it's not.”
Sargent added that Huard is one of the best attackers around.
“She has the knack for scoring a goal when the team really needs it and is always there to pick a teammate up,” Sargent said. “Hard work has led us here today and I’m not surprised she’s signing a National Letter of Intent. She’s going to have a monster year this spring.”
Huard said she’s excited about playing at Assumption.
“I’ve been playing since I was in seventh grade, so I came a little late to the sport, but this is a big honor,” said Huard, who will study nursing. “Picking a college was stressful, but I knew the right place would come at some point. When I met my college coach, I knew where I was going to end up.”