Projected to be one of the state’s top pitchers this season, Southington’s Kendra Friedt certainly lived up to the expectations.
The hard-throwing junior did not lose a game, leading the Blue Knights to the Class LL state championship, the program’s second straight and 16th overall, for the state’s most storied program.
Friedt, the 2014 Register State Player of the Year, went 24-0, compiled an earned run average of 0.33 and struck out 256 batters in 148 innings. The strikeout total broke the single-season school record previously held by Julie Bolduc since 1983.
Although Friedt has natural talent and a strong work ethic, her results were somewhat surprising considering this was Friedt’s first season as the team’s starter. Friedt was the backup to Jordyn Moquin the last two seasons.
“Jordyn was a great pitcher,” Friedt said. “Since I knew Jordyn was a great pitcher, I knew I would never start a game, but I could go in. I worked hard in the off-season, so when I came in as a junior, I could fill her shoes. I think I did pretty well.”
Friedt made a name for herself on the travel circuit as a member of the Connecticut Charmers and has seen varsity experience in mop-up duty, but even her Southington teammates were impressed by Friedt’s accomplishments this season.
“I knew she was good,” Southington shortstop Sydney Ferrante said. “I knew she threw harder than Jordyn, but I didn’t know she would be this good. “A .3 (ERA)? That’s nuts. She did much better than anyone thought she would do this year.”
In the off-season, Friedt worked with renowned pitching coach Jen Hapanowicz to improve her craft. Friedt allowed just 45 hits and seven earned runs. She did not allow a home run.
“The thing I improved on the most is my control,” said Friedt, who has given an oral commitment to play at Boston College. “I hit my spots better. Where (the catcher) calls it, I’ll hit it. The same with my speed, I got more consistent.”
Friedt said she also improved her stamina. That proved beneficial in the Class LL victory over Amity that wasn’t decided until catcher Rachel Dube hit the title-winning solo home run in the bottom of the 15th inning.
“I used to get tired at the end of games,” Friedt said. “Now, at the end of game, I am still strong. That’s an improvement.”
In the victory against Amity, Friedt scattered eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 16. Friedt admitted she had never pitched more than eight or nine innings in one game before.
“Definitely not 15 innings,” Friedt said with a smile. “That was crazy, especially 0-0.”
It marked the second state championship game Friedt played in. Freidt entered in relief against Amity in the Class LL title game in 2012. She did not pitch in the Blue Knights’ victory over Mercy in last year’s final.
“It was very nerve racking as a freshman,” Friedt said.
Friedt pitched just 13 innings during her freshman season, but just five last season. She did not allow a run and struck out 10 in those appearances as a sophomore.
Ferrante added that Friedt buckled down in pressure situations. Ferrante noted that Friedt allowed just three hits and struck out 12 in a 1-0 win over Bristol Eastern on April 18. Friedt did not surrender an earned run and struck out 45 and gave up 17 hits in 36 innings in four state tournament games.
“She threw harder (in pressure situations),” Ferrante said. “Every time she gives a hit, she usually comes back with a strikeout, and that’s big.”