Jul. 9—She arrived home Sunday from a travel softball tournament in Boulder, Colorado, and left again on Wednesday for Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Later this month comes Huntington Beach, California.
It gives Maddie Burrows a day here or there to go to the beach or to grab a few friends and drag them to see her brother, Jared, play for the Mystic Schooners in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Burrows, soon to be a senior at Waterford High School, is already committed to play collegiately for Villanova University, but she still goes to showcases anyway, still hits the batting cage, still brushes up on her oftentimes unhittable changeup.
"I could throw a ball with someone for hours," Burrows said recently. "I look forward to (going to the batting cage). That's probably one of the highlights of my day. My whole day is work out, going hitting, going pitching. If I didn't have a tournament this weekend, I'd do that every day. You can't succeed if you're not going to get any better."
"She never stops playing at her best no matter whether it's a practice or a game," Waterford coach Andy Walker said, asked what sets Burrows apart from the competition. "Whether it's just shagging a fly ball, she's going full bore, never taking a moment off, not just because she has to but because she loves it. You can see the joy of her game even in practice."
Burrows, 12-1 with a 0.89 earned run average on the pitcher's mound and a .523 batting average with nine home runs, 29 RBI and 41 runs scored to complement that, was named The Day's 2021 All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
Burrows led the Lancers to a 20-2 record, an Eastern Connecticut Conference South tournament title and a Class L state quarterfinal berth — the Lancers' season ended with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to East Haven in nine innings. Burrows struck out 134 batters in 86.1 innings and played shortstop when not pitching, recognized with Class L all-state honors.
She was recruited by Villanova to pitch, as well as hit and contribute on defense.
"I could put her at any position and she would excel," Walker said. "A lot of the state didn't get to see her play shortstop. I think she's the best shortstop in the state."
Walker is a self-described fan of Burrows and it's no wonder. She already helped deliver the 2019 Class M state championship to Waterford when she was just a freshman. She homered in an 8-1 victory over Fitch for the ECC South tournament title this season, the Lancers' first ECC tournament crown since 2012, with her dad Tim standing on the other side of the center field fence to catch the home run ball.
But Burrows is not just that quiet freshman anymore. She's a team captain, a leader. She's a humanitarian who spent part of a practice one day relocating a frog from the turf field at Waterford so it wouldn't get hurt. She's a fan of Def Leppard and other classic rock, an interest she gleaned from her parents.
"I didn't want people to step on it," Burrows said of the frog incident. "Growing up, I was out in the woods with my brother and stuff like that. There were salamanders and stuff. We would catch stuff in the pond. I was a very dirty kid, covered in mud. I would come in with cuts on my legs from prickers."
Burrows' dad was a member of the 1988 Waterford High School state championship baseball team. Her mom, Becky Hall, is a Southington grad who won a state title in 1990. The two met at the University of New Haven, where Tim was playing baseball and Becky was playing softball, and both have served as coaches, mentors and cheerleaders for Jared and Maddie as they've grown up.
Jared was the 2020 Gatorade Connecticut Baseball Player of the Year and a state champion for the Lancers, carried a 3.98 grade point average and earned a Division I scholarship as a member of the University of Hartford baseball team.
Maddie, who received a partial scholarship offer from Villanova, plays during the summer months for the prestigious Rhode Island Thunder Gold 16U team and also has a grade point average which hovers around 4.0.
"My parents are very educated. They have, like, this priority board: school, sports, social life. When I'm done with the first two things, then after that I make time to hang out with my friends," Burrows said. "(When my mom would give me advice about softball), maybe I would be like, 'No, stop,' but in the back of my mind I would be thankful for her saying that."
"She's an incredible person," Walker said, continuing his description of Burrows. "It's like having a coach on the field; she's working in the cage with someone on their swing, she'll offer information to me that I can utilize. She's a very humble girl. All the skill she has and all the attention she gets, you would never know it. She's different. She's different than anyone I've ever coached."