Shelton coach Scott Gura has seen some great players come through his program in the past eight seasons since he’s been in charge. However, he’s never had a player like senior pitcher Mike Cowell.
Cowell struck out 102 batters, had a 0.93 earned run average and tossed two no-hitters in 68 innings pitched.
“My personal opinion is that he was the best player in the entire state,” the coach said.
Gura was right. Cowell was named 2015 New Haven Register’s State Player of the Year. Gura was blown away by Cowell’s stats, however the pitcher never bothered to look at them.
“I guess you don’t really stop and think about it,” he said.
When he does choose to fixate on his dominance of the Southern Connecticut Conference, the Fordham-bound pitcher will have a lot to think about. In addition to Cowell’s high strikeout numbers, he also kept runners off base only giving up 35 hits and walking only 11 batters. He also only hit two batters and gave up just one home run.
Cowell was also efficient with his pitch count, averaging just 12 pitches per inning. He was used both as a starter and a reliever, picking up three saves. Cowell said Gura never abused his arm.
“I never took the ball if I wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. “I pitched every game on full rest and felt great all year.”
“He always rose to the occasion,” Gura said.
His lone loss was to Sheehan, but each team he faced he defeated at least once. And when he was locked in, he was almost unhittable. He began the season with a 15-strikeout, no-hitter over Branford.
“We just felt that we had a very good chance of winning the game,” Gura said.
And as the team leaned on Cowell, the pitcher depended on the team. Shelton won a share of the SCC Housatonic Division and went 15-5 with a six-game winning streak going into the SCC tournament. Cowell said the key to the team, and his, success was simple.
“Trusting my teammates, trusting my own pitches, my catcher and my coaches,” he said. It was just as easy to trust Cowell at the plate, too. He batted .406 with 28 hits, nine doubles and a team-high three home runs.
Despite a storybook season, Cowell’s career did not have the storybook ending, as Shelton was eliminated in the Class LL quarterfinals by rival Amity 17-1
, its worst postseason loss in 18 years. Cowell pitched in the previous two tournament games and could not pitch.
“I would have been available for an inning if it got (close),” he said. “But it never did.”
Still, his gaudy numbers, work ethic and leadership are attributes Gura will never forget. And to the coach, Cowell was more than just the state’s best player.
“He did everything the right way,” Gura said. “He’s the best player that I’ve ever coached.”