BY MICHAEL KELLY
HOUGHTON — Katelyn Cook stopped playing school softball after her sophomore year at Shenendehowa. Her senior year, an injury robbed her of fully participating in her final season of field hockey for the Plainsmen.
A freshman now at Houghton College, Cook is back playing both sports on a full-time basis. That’s a little surprising to her, too, since she only intended to play field hockey at the Division III school.
“But the softball coach heard I’d played, so [the field hockey and softball coaches] kind of double-teamed me and asked me to play both,” said Cook, who won a state title with Shenendehowa’s field hockey team in 2013. “And it’s been a great experience.”
Cook played in 11 of her field hockey team’s 17 games this past fall, and has been even better this spring with the Houghton softball team. Before an injury temporarily took her out of her team’s lineup for a few games, Cook — who expects to return early in April to her team’s lineup — was hitting .333 and had knocked in six runs. Her batting average was tied for second on the team.
Cook, 18, never played softball at the varsity level in high school. As an upperclassmen, her athletic focus was field hockey, but she still played on Miss Shen Softball teams in the summer. She worked, too, at The Sports Barn in Halfmoon and was never too far away from softball.
“I kept having fun with it,” she said.
Still, coming back to softball on a more permanent basis was not a decision Cook made with ease. Playing college softball is a huge step up from the local summer tournaments she played in “here and there” once her high school career ended.
“But I am generally an overall nervous person,” she said, laughing. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and I like to play well.”
Cook hasn’t let anyone down. Besides her strong offensive numbers, the Clifton Park native has been willing to play a variety of roles for her team. After starting the season as an infielder, she has started to transition to the outfield to help her team.
“We’re a small squad,” she said. “We only have 12 girls.”
Off the field, Cook said she is enjoying life at Houghton. After going to Shenendehowa, she said she was interested in finding a smaller Christian college with strong science programs. She is still figuring out her major — she could pick math or physics, or both — but she knows she is interested in working in a field involving alternative energy.
“All the things kind of fell into place for me,” she said of Houghton. “It’s a great community here. I’m really happy with my decision to be here.”
Between playing two sports and her academics, Cook said she does have to remind herself “to have some fun” every once in a while. The busy lifestyle she’s leading, though, is what she wants.
“It’s definitely tough,” she said. “I had my last field hockey game on a Saturday and I started training for softball on the Monday after, but that’s exactly what I like to do. It limits my free time, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I love being on the field.”