FAIRFIELD, Conn. – During her five-year varsity career, Lakeland’s Colleen Walsh, one of the greatest players in Section 1 history, went 68-18 while recording 680 strikeouts on the mound to go along with a .378 batting average at the plate.

That career included leading Lakeland to the Section 1 Class A title in 2017, the Hornets’ first sectional crown since 1984.

“Being a part of the section championship team my senior year was a fun experience I will never forget,” Walsh said. “I remember losing my junior year and being heartbroken, yet determined, to be back my senior year. Our section championship and the celebratory moments with my teammates, and best friends, is something I will always hold on to.”

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Since then, Walsh, who earned first-team All-State honors her senior year at Lakeland, has taken her game to the next level, pitching in Division 1 for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

“Being a pitcher at the Division 1 level has been a great experience that I certainly will never forget,” said Walsh, who is a junior at Sacred Heart. “From working so hard day in and day out, to meeting new people, facing adversity, and traveling with my teammates and my coaches, I have learned so much from SHU softball.”

Playing for such a highly competitive Lakeland team, along with an elite travel program, prepared Walsh for the rigors of Division 1 softball.

“Our goal at SHU every year is to win an NEC (Northeast Conference) championship, so we must keep working throughout the season,” Walsh said. “My coaches at Lakeland and my travel coaches, from the Empire State Huskies, have prepared me extremely well to be a player at the collegiate level. I will forever be thankful for the memories, competitions, and success I had throughout my high-school career.”

On Feb. 23, Walsh hurled a one-hitter in a 4-2 victory against Norfolk State.

“My game against Norfolk State was a great win,” Walsh said. “I felt very confident in myself and my team, which led me to success. That was our opening weekend and we were all so pumped to be competing out on the field again.”

Walsh made seven appearances (six starts) before the season was halted, going 3-2 and striking out 20 batters in 35.2 innings pitched.

Walsh’s success at Sacred Heart makes her a great role model for the current Hornets, who aspire to play in college, said Steve Fallo, her coach at Lakeland.

“To have any of our players go on and play at the next level is special,” Fallo said. “It shows our younger players that if you want to play in college it’s possible—even D-1.”

An inextinguishable fire burns deep inside Walsh, who pours her heart and soul into every play.

“Colleen is a fierce competitor who doesn’t like to lose,” Fallo said. “She made a huge commitment and put in a lot of hard work to get to Sacred Heart. Every time she stepped in the pitcher’s circle, she had a mindset that she was going to win the battle. She hated to lose and did whatever she could to win.”

Unfortunately, like so many athletes across the country, Walsh won’t have an opportunity to win any more games this spring.

“I found out about the season ending from COVID-19 from my coaches and that is a conversation we will never forget,” Walsh said. “We were on our way to play in North Carolina when we were told to turn around and come back because our season wasn’t going much further. It was extremely difficult to hear considering my team and I have worked so hard throughout the offseason to be prepared for this upcoming season only to have it cut short.”

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